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: Angel Olsen – Leeds... Honey Harper... the glowe... Leif Vollebekk... Ariel Sharratt & Mathias Kom (of The Burning Hell)... Aoife O’Donovan... Tokyo Police Club... The Lovely Eggs... Peggy Sue... Moulettes... Born Ruffians... Dana Gavanski... The Handsome Family... Happyness... Scott Matthews... The Beths... Pictish Trail... Mr Ben & The Bens... We Were Promised Jetpacks... Douglas Dare... Andy Shauf... Smoke Fairies... Roddy Woomble... Lindsay Munroe... A.A. Williams... bdrmm... Joan Shelley... Erland Cooper... The Lovely Eggs... BC Camplight... Penguin Cafe... Josh Rouse + Vetiver... Alice Boman... Joep Beving... The Dears...

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.

Read our monthly gig guides on Creativetourist.com.