Hey! Manchester promotes gigs by folk, Americana and experimental bands from around the world in Manchester, England. Read more here, see below for our latest shows, check out our previous shows, contact us, or join our mailing list, above.

Upcoming shows: Aoife O’Donovan... Andy Shauf... Lindsay Munroe... Sam Amidon... A.A. Williams... Joan Shelley... Erland Cooper... BC Camplight... Brendan Benson... Jesse Malin... Penguin Cafe... The Lovely Eggs... Dana Gavanski... Mr Ben & The Bens... Alice Boman... The Handsome Family... Tokyo Police Club... Josh Rouse + Vetiver... Anna B Savage... The Besnard Lakes... Scott Matthews... The Beths... bdrmm... Tré Burt... Joep Beving... Moulettes... Skinny Lister... The Dears... Peggy Sue... We Were Promised Jetpacks... Smoke Fairies... Douglas Dare... Roddy Woomble... Robyn Hitchcock... Pictish Trail... The Lovely Eggs...

When: 7.30pm on Friday 22 January 2021
Where: Hallé St Peter’s, 40 Blossom Street, Ancoats, Manchester, M4 6BF

PLEASE NOTE: This show has been postponed. We expect to confirm a new date shortly, but as the show date is coming soon we all wanted to update you. Once we have a new date you will receive an email and all tickets purchased for the original date will remain valid but refunds will also available from your point of purchase.

We’re delighted to present Aoife O’Donovan: Songs and Strings in one of Manchester’s hidden gems.

Recognised for her ethereal voice and substantive songwriting, Aoife O’Donovan is also known for her collaborations. Called ‘a vocalist of unerring instinct’ by the New York Times, O’Donovan is one of the most sought after vocalists and songwriters of her generation and her career has allowed her to collaborate with some of the most eminent names in music across a wide variety of genres.

The most recent example is I’m With Her, the band comprised of Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and O’Donovan. Their debut album See You Around, released in February 2018, has garnered praise from NPR, who instantly hailed the collection as ‘willfully open-hearted’, and the Guardian called their sound both ‘ethereal and purposeful’.

As a solo artist, O’Donovan has released two studio albums. In the Magic Hour (2016), a 10-song album full of the singer’s honeyed vocals mixed with gauzy, frictionless sounds: splashing cymbals, airy harmonies, and the leisurely baritone musings of an electric guitar. Mojo described the record as ‘exhilarating and exploratory,’ while the New York Times named The King of All Birds one of the Best Songs of 2016. Aoife toured 2016 in support of the album and ended that year releasing a live album, Man In A Neon Coat: Live From Cambridge, with her touring band. Her debut solo album, 2013’s Fossils, is a moody collection of original songs with a country lilt. The record received critical acclaim and was featured on a number of Best of 2013 lists including NPR Music, American Songwriter, New York Magazine and No Depression. In 2018, Aoife contributed an original song titled Are You There to the film What They Had, an official selection at both Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals.

O’Donovan spent the preceding decade as co-founder and front woman of the string band, Crooked Still. She is the featured vocalist on The Goat Rodeo Sessions, the Grammy-winning album by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile, and its one-third of the female trio Sometimes Why. Throughout her career, she has also collaborated with artists such as Alison Krauss and jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas, and is currently a member of the house band on the radio variety show Live From Here.

For this show, Aoife is joined by a string quartet.

Hallé St Peter’s, located on Blossom Street in Ancoats, is a Grade II-listed, deconsecrated church, which was built in 1859. Having stood empty for decades, it was recently restored to provide rehearsal and recording space for the Hallé orchestra.

This show is sold as unreserved seating. It is a co-promotion with Please Please You and the Brudenell.

Age restriction: 14+. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from Vinyl Exchange, WeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

Attend on: Facebook 


All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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When: 7pm on Friday 19 March 2021
Where: YES (Basement), 38 Charles Street, Manchester M1 7DB

PLEASE NOTE: Sadly this show is cancelled. Refunds are available from the point of purchase. Here’s a message from the band:

‘Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances and the ongoing issues arising from the pandemic, Happyness’ spring UK and EU tours are no longer able to go ahead. Refunds will be available from point of purchase.’

We’re delighted to be working with Happyness again!

Happyness, formed of core members Jonny Allan and Ash Kenazi, have always been something of an enigma.

Formed as a three piece in 2013, the band quickly gained a reputation as an unconventional and defiantly independent force in London’s alternative music scene. With a staunch DIY outlook and fluid musical roles, they self-recorded their debut LP – lo-fi gem Weird Little Birthday – before ever playing to a live audience. They garnered critical acclaim for their wiry, 90s-indebted arrangements and haunting blissed out melodies, as well as their eclectic lyricism and ability to switch effortlessly between wry, twisted one-liners and aching soulful poetry, which would earn them the NME Award for Best Lyric in 2015.

Numerous festival appearances followed, as well as concert appearances with Mac Demarco, Ezra Furman, The Dandy Warhols and Speedy Ortiz, extensive headline tours of the UK, USA and Europe, an NPR Tiny Desk Session, two KEXP sessions, appearances in various Albums of the Year lists, and an eventual re-release of the LP on Moshi Moshi Records (UK) and Bar/None Records (USA).

The windswept harmonies and tighter, poppier structuring of much-anticipated sophomore album Write In saw Happyness grow from underground goofball phenomenon into established songwriters, and continue their trend of evading stylistic boundaries and defying easy categorisation. The period was marred by health-scares and inter-personal struggles, and after a year of touring the band took an unannounced hiatus, during which time they parted ways with bandmate Benji Compston.

In 2019, after a nearly two-year period, that the band describe as ‘the best and worst years of our lives,’ Happyness announced a handful of intimate headline dates which instantly sold-out, as well as a triumphantly oversubscribed appearance at End Of The Road Festival. The return was marked by drummer Ash Kenazi’s emergence from supporting role into fearless drag queen to co-front the project with singer Allan, as well as a five-piece live line-up comprising of Max Bloom (Yuck), Anna Vincent (Heavy Heart) and Scott Booker Roach (Social Contract).

Beautiful, stormy comeback single Vegetable followed in January 2020, and if it’s anything to go by, the stage is set for a major Happyness renaissance. Sitting in tone somewhere between the ragged euphoria of Weird Little Birthday and the lush balladry of Write In, and with a fresh injection of characteristically mad, artfully self-aware lyrical turns (the song references Chumbawumba, drag queen Jujubee, vaping and Scientology’s E-meter auditing process all in the space of less than four minutes), it seems the band may be entering their most thrilling era yet. A UK tour in April suggests that we can expect a lot more material very soon. And with the London date at Moth Club sold out two months in advance, their biggest headline appearance yet announced at the legendary Scala in November, and the newest version of their screwball vision in tow, it’s as if they never went away. Happyness, to the runway.

Main support comes from Oort Clod. Oort Clod are the bar band from the edge of the universe. Featuring members of Unpaid Intern, the Hipshakes, the Early Mornings, Dream Soda and Blanket Fort.

Opening the show are The Birthmarks. The Birthmarks are a band based in Manchester, England formed by the twin creative talents of Dylan Hughes and Edwin Stevens, who grew up together in the nearby welsh seaside villages Llanfairfechan and Dwygyfylchi. The pair moved to the North West of England and formed the pop band Sex Hands who established a cult following in the UK before dissolving, resulting in the establishment of The Birthmarks.

The band features Alex Hewett on drums, Bryony Dawson on bass and Henry Withers on keys and guitar, with Dylan and Edwin both playing guitar and vocals. Collectively they are/have been involved in many diverse bands throughout the uk DIY music scene, including but not limited to Irma Vep, Aldous RH, Lovvers, Egyptian Hip Hop and Inland Taipan. As a group they create something both familiar and slightly imperfect, through their process of constructing a melody and then tarnishing it.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from Vinyl Exchange, WeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

Attend on: Facebook


All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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When: 7pm on Monday 12 April 2021
Where: Gorilla, 54-56 Whitworth Street West, Manchester M1 5WW

PLEASE NOTE: This show has been postponed and now takes place in April 2021. Original tickets will be valid and all other details will remain the same. Here’s a message from Andy:

‘As many of you know, we have had to abandon tour plans for this fall, as it continues to be unsafe for touring. We’re happy to announce rescheduled dates for our EU and UK tour for 2021, and we’ve added some additional dates too.

‘It’s hard to believe we are rescheduling the dates a second time, but such is the way of the world in 2020. We’re looking forward to getting back to Europe and the UK as soon as it’s safe to do so.

‘Take care and we hope to see you in 2021’

We’re delighted to be bringing Andy Shauf back to Manchester – this time, to Gorilla!

Andy Shauf released The Neon Skyline, his most direct and emotionally-rich work yet, in January 2020 via ANTI-, with a UK tour following in April 2021.

The interconnected songs on The Neon Skyline, all written, performed, arranged and produced by Shauf, follow a simple plot: the narrator goes to his neighbourhood dive, finds out his ex is back in town, and she eventually shows up. As with Shauf’s last solo album, 2016’s The Party, The Neon Skyline is densely layered with an abundance of charming moments. His characters are all sympathetic here, people who share countless inside jokes, shots, and life-or-death musings when the night gets hazy. He offers the first taste, Things I Do, which examines the dissolution of the narrator’s past relationship over tense and jazz-minded instrumentation.

For The Neon Skyline, Shauf chose to start each composition on guitar instead of his usual piano. Happy accidents like Shauf testing out a new spring reverb pedal and experimenting with tape machines forced him to simplify how he’d arrange the tracks. Over the course of a year-and-a-half, Shauf ended up with almost 50 songs all about the same night at the bar. Though paring down his massive body of work to a single album’s worth of material was a challenge for Shauf, the final tracklist is seamless and fully-formed.

Shauf’s attention-to-detail in his writing on The Party evoked Randy Newman and his unorthodox, flowing lyrical phrasing recalled Joni Mitchell. Though that album, which followed different attendees of a house party, was his breakthrough, his undeniable songwriting talent has been long evident. Raised in Bienfait, Saskatchewan, he cut his teeth in the nearby Regina music community. In 2018, his band Foxwarren, formed over a decade ago with childhood friends, released a self-titled album where Pitchfork recognised how ‘Shauf has diligently refined his storytelling during the last decade’.

On top of heartbreak, friendship, and the mundane moments of humanity that define his songwriting, Shauf makes music that explores how easy it is to find yourself in familiar patterns and repeat the same mistakes of your past. His characters wonder, ‘Did this relationship end too soon? Would going to another bar cheer my friend up?,’ or ‘How hard is it to give a shit?’ The songs on The Neon Skyline ultimately take solace in accepting that life goes on and things will be okay.

This is a 14+ show. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult. This show is a co-promotion with the Brudenell.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from Vinyl Exchange,  WeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

Attend on: Facebook


All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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When: 7.30pm on Thursday 6 May 2021
Where: Gullivers, 109 Oldham Street, Manchester, M4 1LW

PLEASE NOTE: This show has been postponed from 2020, and now takes place at Gullivers. Original tickets are valid and all other details remain the same.

We’re excited to be promoting Lindsay Munroe’s biggest show to date!

Lindsay Munroe is a captivating new alt-indie artist based in Manchester. Bold and unflinchingly honest, she pairs swelling synths and swaggering guitars with painfully introspective lyrics, evoking acts like Sharon Van Etten, Laura Marling and Marika Hackman. At once assured and startlingly vulnerable, her music invites you into her world, but on her terms.

After teasing new material at a sell-out hometown show, Munroe is gearing up for the 2020 release of her debut record, produced by Chris Hamilton (LUMP, Torres) and featuring Fern Ford (The Big Moon). Played heavily on BBC Introducing in 2019, she has recently performed at Dot to Dot Festival and toured with the likes of Luke Sital Singh and David Kitt.

‘The Manchester acoustic scene’s most exciting young graduate’ – David Sue, Manchester Evening News

‘A hugely promising debut from an extremely talented new artist’ – IndieLondon

This show is a co-promotion with DHP.

Book tickets now. Tickets are also available from Seetickets.com, Wegottickets.com and Dice.fm.

Attend on: Facebook


All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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When: 7.30pm on Saturday 15 May 2021
Where: The Kings Arms, 11 Bloom Street, Salford M3 6AN

We’re delighted to be bringing Sam Amidon to the Kings Arms!

Sam Amidon’s self-titled album is out now Nonesuch Records. ‘A fine showcase for Amidon’s studio experimentation,’ says Rolling Stone, the album ‘incorporates elements of spacious, echoing ambient electronic music to complement Amidon’s warm vocals, reminiscent of Nick Drake and Arthur Russell.’

The new album, which Amidon considers the fullest realisation to date of his artistic vision, comprises his radical reworkings of nine mostly traditional folk songs, performed with his band of longtime friends and collaborators. Amidon produced the record, applying the sonic universe of his 2017 The Following Mountain to these beloved tunes, many of which he first learned as a child. Pretty Polly, for example, was one of the first traditional tunes he learned to play, and Time Has Made a Change is a song that his parents – singers who were on the 1977 Nonesuch recording?Rivers of Delight with the Word of Mouth Chorus – sang around the house when he was young.

Amidon and his frequent band?of multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily and drummer Chris Vatalaro were joined in the studio by Belgian guitarist Bert Cools (who played on his last EP), as well as Amidon’s wife, Beth Orton, who adds vocals on three songs. Acoustic bassist Ruth Goller and saxophonist and labelmate Sam Gendel also play on the album, which was mixed by Leo Abrahams.?Sam Amidon was mostly recorded live in the studio. Amidon arranged the songs, which are traditional tunes, with the exception of Taj Mahal’s Light Rain Blues, Harkins Frye’s Time Has Made a Change, and Hallelujah, which is an 1835 William Walker shape-note tune using earlier words by Charles Wesley, found in the Sacred Harp collection of early American folk-hymns.

Sam Amidon is Amidon’s fifth recording on Nonesuch and follows the 2019 EP Fatal Flower Garden (A Tribute to Harry Smith). Additional recordings include his 2017 album The Following Mountain and Kronos Quartet’s Folk Songs the same year, on which he was a featured singer along with Rhiannon Giddens, Natalie Merchant, and Olivia Chaney; Lily-O in 2014; and his label debut, Bright Sunny South, in 2013.

This show is a co-promotion with Please Please You.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from WeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

Attend on: Facebook


All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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When: 7.30pm on Thursday 20 May 2021
Where: Hallé St Peter’s, 40 Blossom Street, Ancoats, Manchester, M4 6BF

We’re delighted to working with A.A. Williams for the first time!

Making her stage debut in April 2019 and selling out her first headline show at London’s prestigious Southbank Centre less than a year later, A.A. Williams has hit the ground running. Similarly, the acclaim for her performances and her music has been unanimous from the start. After one self-titled EP and the 10-inch vinyl collaboration Exit in Darkness with Japanese post-rockers MONO, the London-based singer-songwriter has signed to Bella Union and made a stunning debut album, Forever Blue.

A rapturous blend of post-rock and post-classical, Forever Blue smoulders with uncoiling melodies and haunted atmospheres, shifting from serenity to explosive drama, often within the same song. Williams is a fantastic musician as well as songwriter, playing the guitar, cello and piano, and her voice has the controlled delivery of a seasoned chanteuse whilst still channelling the rawest of emotions.

Forever Blue is named after a song that didn’t make the album’s final cut, ‘but it still encapsulated these songs,’ Williams explains. ‘It sounded timeless and in the right place.’ The album’s threads encapsulate the anxieties and addiction of love and loss with haunting detail, for example Glimmer (‘I wasn’t meant to see the sun washed out and pale / I wait undone / I wasn’t meant to be the one hollow and hurt and meant for none’), though Williams admits the theme was shaped more by her subconscious than any grand plan.

‘The lyrics come at the end, they fall into place, rhythmically, and link together,’ she explains. ‘And then it’s my job to decipher what I’ve written! I want the words to get my point across but still let the listener map on their own experiences. I find it really therapeutic.’

Therapy is intrinsic to Williams’ approach: to not just express and unpick her feelings of longing and loss but to work through them. ‘Verbalising something, you feel a weight has been lifted,’ she says. The transition can be mirrored in the dynamic shift from ‘quiet’ to ‘loud’, as on Glimmer and arguably at its most euphoric on Melt. ‘There’s something very satisfying and elating about songs that have that drop in them, to stomp on the guitar pedal on and let it all out.’

It’s testament to Williams’ skills, and those of husband and bassist Thomas Williams, that Forever Blue’s commanding sound was largely captured at the couple’s two-bedroom flat in North London. Drums by Geoff Holroyde were added at engineer Adrian Hall’s studio in South London, with guest vocals from Johannes Persson (Cult Of Luna), who adds his deep-trawling growl to Fearless (‘he sounds like Tectonic plates moving,’ Williams feels), Fredrik Kihlberg (Cult Of Luna) on Glimmer and Tom Fleming (ex-Wild Beasts) on Dirt.

Williams can scarcely believe she’s in such exalted company, or that her band has toured with Cult Of Luna, Russian Circles, Explosions In The Sky, Nordic Giants and Sisters Of Mercy, whilst performing with MONO at their 10th anniversary show. It’s not because she doesn’t trust her own worth but that Williams only became a singer-songwriter by chance.

Having taken music lessons from the age of six and been immersed in classical music, Williams’ life was forever changed when she discovered Deftones in her mid-teens, ‘and after them, all things heavy,’ she recalls. ‘It was music that made me feel included, that tapped into me.’

Yet it was only years later, when she found a guitar in the street with a note attached, ‘please take me, just needs work,’ that Williams started playing guitar, and only started writing songs as a way of learning how to play. ‘I wrote in different styles to find a sound I was comfortable with,’ she says. ‘Likewise, with singing. I’d never before thought of singing with a microphone in front of other people. It’s been quite a journey.’

That journey was thrown off course by the Coronavirus lockdown, but Williams’ response has been the Songs From Isolation video project, solo renditions of songs suggested by her fans. At the time of writing, she has performed Radiohead’s Creep (‘to take on a song like that, you either have to be brave or dumb, and I thought, let’s be brave!’), Gordon Lightfoot’s If You Could Read My Mind and Nick Cave’s Into Your Arms.

As Songs From Isolation keeps posting intimate messages from a place of solitude, Forever Blue will spread the news of A.A. Williams’ extraordinary talent far and wide – and once lockdown is over, she and her band will be taking the next steps on her journey by touring the record. She’s already come so far but this story is only just beginning.

Hallé St Peter’s, located on Blossom Street in Ancoats, is a Grade II-listed, deconsecrated church, which was built in 1859. Having stood empty for decades, it was recently restored to provide rehearsal and recording space for the Hallé orchestra.

This show is sold as unreserved seating. This show is a co-promotion with Form.

Age restriction: 14+. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from WeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

Attend on: Facebook 


All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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When: 7.30pm on Sunday 23 May 2021
Where: The Deaf Institute, 135 Grosvenor Street, Manchester M1 7HE

PLEASE NOTE: This show has been moved from May 2020, via August 2020, to May 2021, and now takes place at the Deaf Institute. All other details are the same, and original tickets remain valid. Additional tickets have been released – see below for links.

We’re delighted to be welcome Joan Shelley back!

Joan Shelley is a songwriter and singer who lives near Louisville, Kentucky, not far from where she grew up. Like the River Loves the Sea is her fifth album. She draws inspiration from traditional and traditionally-­minded performers from her native Kentucky, as well as those from Ireland, Scotland, and England, but she’s not a folksinger. Her disposition aligns more closely with that of, say, Roger Miller, Dolly Parton, or her fellow Kentuckian Tom T. Hall, who once explained – simply, succinctly, in a song – ‘I Witness Life’.

She’s not so much a confessional songwriter, although Like the River… gets closest to such subjectively emotional impressions as perhaps any album to date, and she sings less of her life and more of her place: of landscapes and watercourses; of flora and fauna; of seasons changing and years departing and the ineluctable attempt of humans to make some small sense of all – or, at best, some – of it. Her perspective and performances both have been described, apparently positively, as ‘pure,’ but there’s no trace of the Pollyanna and there’s little of the pastoral, either: her work instead wrestles with the possibility of reconciling, if only for a moment, the perceived ‘natural’ world with its reflection – sometimes, relatively speaking, clear; other times hopelessly distorted – in the human heart, mind, and footprint.

Since the 2015 release of her album Over and Even, Shelley has crossed the US and Europe several times as a headlining artist, sharing shows with the likes of Jake Xerxes Fussell, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Doug Paisley, Daniel Martin Moore, the Other Years and Michael Hurley. She has opened for Wilco, Chris Smither, Andrew Bird and Richard Thompson. Jeff Tweedy produced her previous record at The Loft in Chicago, and her current record Like the River Loves the Sea was recorded at Greenhaus Studios in Iceland.

Tour support comes from James Elkington. Chicago songwriter and guitarist James Elkington – who has collaborated with everyone from Richard Thompson to Jeff Tweedy to Tortoise – has announced his new album, Ever-Roving Eye, out 3 April on Paradise of Bachelors. He recorded his sophomore album at Wilco’s Loft, expanding upon his ‘beautiful, complex, and assured’ (Pitchfork) 2017 debut Wintres Woma, as well as his recent production and arrangement work for the likes of Steve Gunn, Nap Eyes (he produced their upcoming Snapshot of a Beginner) and Joan Shelley. Casting glances back to British folk traditions as well as toward avant-garde horizons, these brilliant new songs, as accessible as they are arcane, buttress Elkington’s brisk guitar figures and baritone poesy with strings, woodwinds, and backing vocals by Tamara Lindeman of the Weather Station.

This is a 14+ show. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from WeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

Attend on: Facebook


All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
Designed by ikram_zidane

When: 7.30pm on Saturday 29 May 2021
Where: Hallé St Peter’s, 40 Blossom Street, Ancoats, Manchester, M4 6BF

PLEASE NOTE: This show has been postponed from September 2020 to May 2021. Original tickets are valid and all other details remain the same.

We’re delighted to welcoming Erland Cooper back – this time, to one of Manchester’s hidden gems.

Erland Cooper has announced Hether Blether, the third and final album in a trilogy of releases shaped by the islands where he grew up – due for release on vinyl, CD and digitally on 29 May 2020 via Phases. In addition, Erland has announced a UK tour for the autumn.

Cooper has also shared the first track from the album, Longhope. Featuring new poetry by John Burnside, written after a trip to Orkney with Erland (documented on the BBC Radio 4 programme Wild Music), as well as spoken word from the award-winning musician Kathryn Joseph plus ambient tape and modular synth work from Hiroshi Ebina, the track draws us into Erland’s world with a slow moving portrait video directed by long time collaborator Alex Kozobolis.

Hailing from the archipelago of Orkney in Scotland, the contemporary composer and multi-instrumentalist has so far explored the birdlife (2018’s Solan Goose), the sea (2019’s Sule Skerry) and, on Hether Blether, he turns his attention to the land and its people. Named after a hidden island in folklore, said to rise green and fertile from time to time from the foam. Inspired, in essence, by Orcadian poet George Mackay Brown, filmmaker Margaret Tait and composer Peter Maxwell Davies before him, this final album is a celebration of the Islands’ memory held in timeless landscape, community, myth and mythology. The album looks to the past through the stories of the island and to the present and future through its people.

Hether Blether weaves elements of Solan Goose and Sule Skerry, bringing them together in a full circle around the cycles of the changing seasons. Throughout the triptych, Cooper explores a restorative path in the rhythm and poetry of the every day, deep within a land and community at the edge of the world. On Hether Blether, as on the albums before, song titles are taken from local dialect and nod to the places and stories of the island (Noup Head, Rousay, Longhope) as well as the people themselves (Peedie Breeks, which translates as ‘children’).

Hether Blether’s opening track, Noup Head, introduces the listener to the story of the title track’s hidden island via a young girl that went missing one day. Her family found her in a storm, on an island emerging from the fog. On the new island, she was grown-up, with children of her own. She gives her family a stake to enable them to return to see her, but it was lost in the sea, forever. ‘A cold sting on her skin/that takes her back/to something she forgot/ in childhood,’ reads Kathryn Joseph, deep longing in her delivery of Burnside’s words.

The girl reappears, as memories do, as Hether Blether ebbs and flows. She’s there in Burnside’s poetry on the beautiful Longhope, in ‘the echo of a child/suspended in a web/of kelp and feathers… a long-lost sister, waiting for the tide/to guide her home’. She’s there in the swell of the Arco string quartet on Rousay, named after the island on which the girl was born. She’s also there in the album’s title track, where Erland sings his lyrics against the soft swell of his piano and Moog. ‘From time to time you rise out of the sea,’ Erland sings, himself. ‘Never take your eyes off of me.’

Erland’s own voice is a point of strength and vulnerability on this final part of his trilogy: Solan Goose didn’t feature his vocals at all; Sule Skerry only featured them briefly. Here, they are given room to breathe, to invite us new paths of discovery and exploration. When they hymn ‘a sweet isle in my life’ on Hildaland, we go along with them, finding the inhabitants that were said to retreat to a secret undersea kingdom every winter (just as Erland retreated from the real world through the soft waves of his music).

Hether Blether ends with Cooper singing a lyric borrowed from celebrated film composer Clint Mansell on a song with a title that sounds full of intent: Where I Am Is Here, a work all about time and memory, its repeated phrase ‘love now more than ever’ feels like an urgent demand for our times. It’s a natural end-point for a project that began with one man needing to retreat from the chaos of everyday life, to return to where he came from, taking all of us with him, to the very roots of ourselves.

Its last line, ‘time will show you how’, also reminds us how the past and present have always connected in our lives, bringing our experiences full circle. It also reminds us how deeply we have dived, how we have fished in such rich, vivid water, in the few short years since we met the Solan Goose, ventured bravely to Sule Skerry, and headed further to Hether Blether.

But Cooper hasn’t left the Orkneys behind him just yet. ‘It’s still with me,’ he says. ‘I’m only just coming to terms with where it’s taken me – from a place of necessary escape, to a very different world.’

Hallé St Peter’s, located on Blossom Street in Ancoats, is a Grade II-listed, deconsecrated church, which was built in 1859. Having stood empty for decades, it was recently restored to provide rehearsal and recording space for the Hallé orchestra.

This show is sold as unreserved seating.

Age restriction: 14+. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from WeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

Attend on: Facebook 


All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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When: 7pm on Wednesday 8 December 2021
Where: The Ritz, Whitworth Street West, Manchester M1 5NQ

PLEASE NOTE: This show has been postponed until December 2021. Doors are now 7pm, with an 11pm curfew, and original tickets remain valid. Here’s a message from Brian/BC Camplight:

‘I can hardly express to you how joyous this will be. Get your tickets and come be a part of the celebration.’

We’re delighted to be presenting BC Camplight’s biggest hometown show to date!

‘This is an examination of madness and loss,’ says Brian Christinzio, the inimitable force behind BC Camplight. ‘I hope it starts a long overdue conversation.’

Fired by his ongoing battle with mental illness, Shortly After Takeoff is the final, and finest, chapter of what Christinzio calls his ‘Manchester Trilogy’, following 2015’s How To Die In The North and 2018’s Deportation Blues. All three albums were created after the native Philadelphian had moved to Manchester. Like Deportation Blues, Shortly After Takeoff spans singer-songwriter classicism, gnarly synth-pop and ‘50s rock’n’roll, with Christinzio’s similarly distinctive, flexible vocal carrying a fearless approach to lyrical introspection, but the new album is a major leap forward in songwriting sophistication and lyrical communication.

‘It’s important to stress that this isn’t a redemption story,’ he says. ‘I’m a guy who maybe lives a little hard and I’m in the thick of some heavy stuff. But as a result, I think I’ve made my best record.’

The ‘heavy stuff’ has come thick and fast for Christinzio. Just days before How To Die In The North was released, he was deported and banned from the UK because of visa issues. Estranged from his new home, his girlfriend and his dog, unable to promote his album and back home with his parents, Christinzio sunk deep into the dark. An Italian passport, care of his grandparents, eventually allowed him to re-settle in Manchester, but then just days before Deportation Blues was released, his father Angelo unexpectedly died.

‘I went into a spiral that was worse than any time since my twenties,’ he recalls. Hence the title Shortly After Takeoff: the feeling of being suddenly thwarted by what life throws at you. Making matters worse was a neurological disorder that returned after years in remission: ‘I see TV static, and it messes with how my brain interprets everything from sound to my own feelings.’

One way to process tragedy is comedy, which elevates Shortly After Takeoff to a heightened plateau, from grief-stricken vulnerability to armoured bravado, from the black dog of depression to gallows humour. None more so than Ghosthunting, which opens with an extraordinary (fabricated) passage of Christinzio doing a stand-up routine, centring on the memory of hallucinating his father’s ghost. ‘I want to drag the listener into this world and hopefully they question why they feel uneasy,’ he explains.

‘I also wanted to make a record totally free of whimsy and irony, that was just clear and open and honest. I don’t think you really heard the chaos in Deportation Blues, but in Shortly After Takeoff, I can hear I’m finding undiscovered places to go, only because I was so lost. Lyrically, I wanted people to hear and understand me this time. Before, if I would have written about my father dying, I would have made up some weird bullshit, like an analogy about a tree shedding leaves or something. That Brian is gone. I have a direct line to the listener now. I have a direct line to myself too. It’s a benchmark moment for me.’

Bleak comedy is evident from the album’s first song. I Only Drink When I’m Drunk features Christinzio’s trademark ‘keep you on your toes’ style. He describes it as ‘Hank Williams on cough medicine being awoken by ferocious guitars’. Ghosthunting similarly changes tack, between serene melody, classical harps, and pounding passages: Cemetery Lifestyle appears to feed on The Four Seasons and crunchy new wave. Though the Nilsson-esque I Want To Be In the Mafia (Christinzio’s favourite lyric on the album) and the elegantly sombre Arms Around Your Sadness are less changeable, the way Back To Work trades dreamy AOR and robotic funk ‘sums up this record perfectly,’ Christinzio feels. ‘The verse seems to make sense, then out of nowhere, boom boom… just when you think you have it figured out… It’s the never-ending cycle of mental illness.’

Christinzio says his love of stylistic shifts is also linked to a ‘pretty low attention span. I’m always stirring the pot, I never let it settle’. His personal life is similarly restless. Few might risk everything and abscond from the safety of home in Philadelphia, where he had released two albums, occasionally played live with local faves The War On Drugs – whose current members Dave Hartley and Robbie Bennett were part of the original BC Camplight live band – and guested on Sharon van Etten’s Epic album. ‘If I’d stayed, I’d be dead. Period,’ he once mused, and what was Philly’s loss became Manchester’s gain.

There, Christinzio has his friends, and his band. On record, Shortly After Takeoff is ’95 per cent’ Christinzio, plus Adam Dawson (drums) and Francesca Pidgeon (backing vocals, sax, clarinet) and guests on cello and violin. Dawson and Pidgeon are also members of the current live BC Camplight, alongside Tom Bellini (guitar), Stephen Mutch (bass) and Luke Barton (synths, acoustic guitar).

Christinzio couldn’t tour How To Die In The North because of his deportation, but the shows following Deportation Blues played to increasingly larger audiences. Christinzio’s bombastic and intense live performances have earned him an ever-growing legion of devotees (and a recent nomination for Best Live Act by the Independent Music Awards) that see Brian as an ‘anti-rockstar’, an unfiltered talent.

‘I’m pretty sure the BC Camplight live experience isn’t something you can find elsewhere,’ he declares. ‘It is a journey every night. One moment, I’m basically doing a stand-up routine and the next, the band and I are playing like we plan on dying that evening, giving our everything. Then I’m on speakerphone to my Mom on stage before assaulting my piano. I’m very thankful that, after all this time, the audience is finally there.’ One regret is that his father never saw Christinzio experience any level of success. ‘I wish he could have seen what I’ve started to do here,’ he says. ‘I certainly gave that guy more grey hairs than he deserved. He would have liked to see this.’

Shortly After Takeoff ends with the gorgeously tender 93-second Angelo, ‘a little fleeting moment for my dad. I wanted his name on the album, and something that sounded like a goodbye. It ends with the drums, like a heartbeat stopping…’

That’s Christinzio and Shortly After Takeoff: his best, most honest, open and frequently heartbreaking record.

This show is for ages 8+ only. 8- to 13-year-olds must be accompanied by an adult.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from Dice.fmTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

Attend on: Facebook


All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
Designed by ikram_zidane

When: 7pm on Sunday 6 June 2021
Where: The Deaf Institute, 135 Grosvenor Street, Manchester M1 7HE

We’re excited to be working with Brendan Benson for the first time!

‘There’s something about this record,’ Brendan Benson says, describing his Third Man Records debut album Dear Life. ‘A friend of mine called it “life-affirming”. I thought it was a joke at first but then realised, well, it’s about life and death for sure. I don’t know if that’s positive or optimistic or whatever, but that’s what’s going on with me.’

Benson finds himself in an enviable spot as he enters the third decade of a remarkably creative, consistently idiosyncratic career – an accomplished frontman, musician, songwriter, producer, band member, husband and dad. Benson’s seventh solo album, and first new LP in almost seven years, Dear Life is this consummate polymath’s most inventive and upbeat work thus far, an 11-track song cycle about life, love, family, fatherhood, and the pure joy of making music.

Produced and almost entirely performed by Benson at his own Readymade Studio in Nashville, the album sees the Michigan-born, Nashville-based artist – and co-founder, with Jack White, of The Raconteurs – revelling in a more modernist approach than ever before, fuelled by a heady brew of cannabis, hip-hop and a newly discovered interest in software drum programming. The result is an untapped playfulness that elevates expertly crafted songs like the opener, I Can If You Want Me To, and the first single, Good To Be Alive, with voluble arrangements, elastic grooves and incandescent power. Imbued with revitalised ambition and confidence, Dear Life is Brendan Benson at his very best.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from Dice.fm, WeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

Attend on: Facebook


All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
Designed by ikram_zidane

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