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: Milky Wimpshake... The Lovely Eggs... Gratis: Seazoo... Joan Shelley... Andy Shauf... Angel Olsen – Leeds... Alice Boman... Lindsay Munroe... Mr Ben & The Bens... Penguin Cafe... Erland Cooper... Peggy Sue... Honey Harper... Núria Graham + Francis Lung... the glowe... Happyness... Douglas Dare... Joep Beving... Leif Vollebekk... The Lovely Eggs... Ariel Sharratt & Mathias Kom (of The Burning Hell)... The Dears... Scott Matthews... BC Camplight... Tokyo Police Club... Aoife O’Donovan... Dana Gavanski... Born Ruffians... The Handsome Family... Pictish Trail... Smoke Fairies...

When: 7.30pm on Monday 14 September 2020
Where: Gullivers, 109 Oldham Street, Manchester, M4 1LW

PLEASE NOTE: This show has been postponed from April until September. Original tickets are valid and all other details remain the same.

We’re delighted to be welcoming Mr Ben & The Bens back to Manchester!

After the celestial adventures of Mr Ben & The Bens’ previous issue, band-leader Ben Hall finds all the magic he needs on earth with his new album. On 2019’s Who Knows Jenny Jones?, Hall plotted the story of a young, shy Pitsmoor woman who returned from an alien encounter newly armed with serious disco-dancing know-how. Released through Bella Union on 10 July 2020, Life Drawing looks closer to home – Sheffield and thereabouts – for 12 brightly plaintive, character-driven vignettes, set to warm, acoustic, indie-folk-pop backdrops after its predecessor’s close encounters of the synth-driven kind.

A ‘cloudy thread of narrative’ is present, Hall explains, but this time it’s left open for listeners to map routes through it. ‘The idea with the title is that the songs are character sketches, and their stories coalesce in a place that has a bit of all the towns in the North of England I’ve lived in. Bits of myself in the stories came out unintentionally, so I’d like it if the listener could find those semi-truths from the songs and place them into their own experiences.’

Vibrant invitation to start exploring arrives with album opener On the Beach, where Hall’s tender vocal and dreamy organ provide simpatico companions to a wistful tale of a visit to a beach charged with memories – one of many evocative locales on the album. How Do You Do? brings to mind Belle and Sebastian at their dreamiest, while seeding enviro-metaphors – suns and moons, storms and tides, rain and snow, Whatever the weather may do – that figure strongly throughout the album’s every-day rhapsodies.

While these motifs provide consistency, a tremendous sense of DIY musical dynamism is at work elsewhere on Life Drawing, colouring in the fringes and shading the edges. ‘I spent a lot longer on this album, in fact the longest I’ve spent on any project in my life,’ he says. ‘Hopefully that gravity comes across! I have the curious ability to make and move on way too quickly when making music and art, so hopefully this record’s got a bit more staying power.’

Plenty of melodic sticking power propels the urgent Danny, where beaches and seas provide backdrops for a character study about someone reaching out for connection. At the opposite extreme, the gorgeous Astral Plane is a sweetly psychedelic lament, images of waves and shores lapping gently against the tale of a ‘barely functioning’ character. Faithful Hound is a country-sad ballad, Minor Keys a retro doo-wop-ish reverie about a character blithely ‘at sea’ and wasting the day away, all set to a waltzing-Wurlitzer melody.

Elsewhere, Metronomy-esque outsider-pop laments (Beast in the House), jaunty pop miniatures (Walking to an Open Sky) and pin-drop-delicate folk-pop lullabies (Irish Rain) emerge with range and empathy, attuned to the earthy hopes, dreams, sorrows and pleasures of their subjects. Closing Time sets a writer’s (‘“In the town, that you write into life on to pages so white’) to a reverberant piano, before Watering Can closes the album on notes of brassy uplift. ‘I go,’ sings Hall, drawing forward momentum from the stories he digs up.

For Hall, Life Drawing is a rich, rewarding step forward in a still-young career.

‘Upbeat, psychedelia-tinged pop’ – Secret Meeting

‘An intoxicating mix of perfectly fitting melodies and vocal strafes’ – Clash Magazine

Main support comes from Manchester’s own Ivan Campo. Ivan Campo’s story began in 2000 when the band met whilst studying Contemporary Music at UCLAN. After graduating, they put together their first EP, Clippings 2, which was self-released in 2004. Since then they have performed at a variety of venues and festivals throughout the UK and have played three tours around Spain. Their collection of laid back songs tell tales; inspired by life, love and literature. Having been on hiatus throughout 2019, the band have been busy writing material for their 10th album which will start to be showcased to audiences from February 2020.

Opening the show are Family Selection Box – a northern roasted blend of DIY indie.

PLEASE NOTE: This show has been postponed from April until September. Original tickets are valid and all other details remain the same.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from the bar (no booking fee), Vinyl Exchange, WeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

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All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.

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