The Castle, Manchester
published: 21 /
Keith How witnesses experimental singer-songwriter and cellist Laura Moody play a spellbinding set in an intimate gig at the Castle in Manchester
The hurriedly scrawled note taped to the shutter door that protected TAK from the mischievous Manchester night confirmed our information. Laura Moody was now to perform at the Castle pub around the corner on Oldham Street. A short walk found us at the bar in what can only be described as “a proper boozer”. We were greeted by a smiling youth with curly hair who directed us to a dimly lit corridor. After further inspection and interrogation, it appeared that Laura was now “support” and would appear at 8.45 p.m.
Dutifully we were first into the “compact” room, which was complete with stage, mixing desk and old wooden panelling, and standing only, or as we were invited later , you could sit on the floor (No, thank you). We were a sparse gathering of about fifteen when Laura Moody took to the stage beautifully attired in a smart trouser suit, and with an engaging, slightly cheeky smile and a cello.
The following forty or so minutes were totally spellbinding. Laura’s cello is 250 years old, about the same age as the tiny room she was performing in, and the fit was perfect. She coaxed all manner of sounds from her instrument entwining her wonderful vocals with the instrument and scraping the ancient wood with the bow, sometimes beating out a rhythm while picking notes from the neck. Her vocals, often operatic in style, swooped and wailed sensuously around us as she appeared bonded to the instrument. Her songs were a mix of classical and contemporary influences, often in the same composition,and sometimes fierce, sometimes tender, were always enchanting and captivating. At times, as she incorporated a Vivaldi aria, a sense of quiet meditation pervaded, but then when she apologised for yodelling it came as no surprise -such was her virtuosity.
Laura Moody is a breathtaking performer, and I feel honoured to have been present at such an intimate performance. I hope this doesn’t sound too cliched but, as an admirer of Nick Drake, her rendition of 'Cello Song' complimented a stunning set which finished with punky flourish and a big smile.