Off The Record

Various Locations, Manchester 16/11/18

Now in its third year, OFF THE RECORD has become a highlight of the live music calendar up North. Its schedule provides a priceless networking opportunity for those aspiring to work in the industry through an insightful and inspiring conference in the day. By night, it becomes a live music showcase, bringing some of the best up-and-coming artists to the Northern Quarter.

Kicking things off at Jimmy’s ae special guests BANG BANG ROMEO, fronted by Anastasia Walker, whose powerhouse vocals are instantly striking. The band perform beneath a red neon lightning bolt that’s as electric as their music. Their brilliant single Bag Of Bones and a fiery cover of The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army demonstrate their soulful brand of rock ‘n’ roll.

Just a short walk away in Stevenson Square, THE NINTH WAVE take to the stage in the grungy basement venue of Soup Kitchen. Frontman Haydn Park-Patterson embodies an 80s aesthetic wearing leather shorts, fishnet sleeves and crucifix earrings whilst singing over dark, droning synths and ferocious guitars. Their latest single Sometimes The Silence Is Sweeter goes down a treat, as well as Swallow Me, Resurrection and the ridiculously catchy and anthemic New Kind Of Ego, all of which showcase the band’s relentless passion. If you’re a fan of Depeche Mode, White Lies or Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (who they supported in Glasgow a few months ago), then you’ll love this band.

After recently being nominated for the Welsh Music Prize, MELT caught my eye on this year’s line-up when it was announced. The fact that they sing in Welsh doesn’t matter at all, as their performance is fun, energetic and somewhat summery. It’s quite refreshing for a cold November evening.

Leeds’ FIZZY BLOOD perform their last gig of the year to a packed out Soup Kitchen. Benji Inkley’s raspy vocals – that sometimes venture into borderline screamo territory – are the core of their high energy set. Their sound is far too big for the confines of the basement and the band master the art of changing pace within tracks to keep the crowd interested.

The highlight of the evening is SELF ESTEEM, the new solo project from Slow Club’s Rebecca Taylor. Arriving onstage only two minutes late, she declares “Alright, we’ll stop fucking about now and play some songs,” before launching into the fantastic Rollout. Rebecca is joined onstage by two other vocalists, all wearing T-shirts with the words ‘Squirt isn’t pee’, which is very much in line with the authoritative tone of their performance. Anyone who simply says that Rebecca has ‘gone pop’ is vastly underestimating what Self Esteem is doing. This is still experimental music and her performance challenges what it means to be ‘feminine’ and what it’s like to live in an age of social media.

At The Castle Hotel, the vocals of ANOTHER SKY frontwoman Catrin Vincent are perplexing yet marvellous, especially on their latest politically-charged single Chillers – only recently performed on Later Live… with Jools Holland.

Off The Record is an excellent event; it offers valuable advice to young musicians and puts a spotlight on northern acts that may otherwise struggle to stand out in the London scene. It’s integral to ensuring that the North maintains its cultural importance in the music industry.

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