All full up on our delicious goats cheese Cornerhouse pizza, a scrummy Friday treat, we walked over to The Ruby Lounge to see The Slow Show hosted by BBC Manchester Introducing. As a band name they’ve been floating around in my peripherals for a while (can you picture that?). Being an intensely OTT Elbow fan (their blissful 2011 MEN gig is still my ‘happy mental place’ refuge in times of stress) I’d heard of The Slow Show when they supported Elbow at Manchester Cathedral (I didn’t go – not a happy mental place). One of those bands that people keep mentioning to me, I’ve had a fair few myspace listens but not yet had the chance to see them perform.
Recently formed and Manchester based they have a gentle Americana sound with a distinctly Northern, as in Northern English, slant. Having been warmed up by I See Angels, The Slow Show came on stage looking a rather dandy lot (I do appreciate it when people make a stylistic effort). And there were quite a lot of them too with the main five-piece accompanied on stage by a cellist and two-piece brass section.
The venue was packed and really quite noisy. The only time this seemed a problem was when they performed Northern Town, a slightly saccharine northern nod to Streets of London. Apart from that their delicate, though not ever underpowered, sound filled the room beautifully. They played a set that was refined and reflective and each member seemed delightfully comfortable basking in such soulful laments. The singer, whose rich vocals, like a caramelised Lou Reed or young Johnny Cash on Hurt, casually drawls through the songs making the declarations and outbursts all the more striking. He also strummed clean fresh chords backed by the lead player’s bright arpeggios and sweet harmonies.
Both played Gibson 335s, (if you don’t know these guitars get googling, they are pretty lil’ beasts) which aided the visual style of the band. As did the lovely red Nord keyboard, upon which the player replicated fantastic Hammond organ sounds that were given ample audible space. As were the drum and bass combo. The drums were wonderfully intricate and extremely sonically thoughtful. The Cello lines aided the soulfulness of the experience whilst the brass really added that Northern Town twist. At every point the instruments had room. Never egotistical but always imaginatively orchestrated and well executed.
To make comparisons, I’d say roughly that their sound is the hybrid musical lovechild of Nick Cave’s The Ship Song with an Elbow freshly returned from an American Road trip. Did that help? Without comparisons, id say they sound like a beautiful set of instrumental lines, gently tumbling down a green, grassy hill, working their way to a magnificent and emotional conclusion. Now how nice does that sound?
With a show at The Deaf Institute on the 18th March and a CD release on the 19th, available on download on the 2nd April, we can expect to be hearing a lot more from The Slow Show and I for one am glad about it.
Today I listened to: Making Mirrors by Gotye
Today I read: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Lead Singer from The Slow Show