Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dot To Dot Festival Manchester 24th May 2013 9/10

For the third year, I returned to the excellent urban Dot to Dot Festival, which took me to Manchester venues The Ritz, Sound Control and Gorilla, within 5 minutes' walk of each other. I present my photographs chronologically.

1) Ruen Brothers 6/10
The Scunthorpe band proved to be a lively opener to my festival, owing much to 1960's rock and roll. They've already attracted attention from NME; yet I wished for more subtlety.

2) The 1975 8/10
The 1975 have yet to release their d├ębut full length  but have been attracting much attention from their three EPs. On this showing, they are definitely a band you need to see live, creating an electric atmosphere, with almost theatrical stagecraft.

3) Tom Odell 7/10
22 year old British singer songwriter Tom Odell spent much of his set at the keyboard, producing heartfelt, sensitive ballads. For all the skill on display I found his style rather affected, calculated for the broadest possible appeal. Yet there were signs of a less measured, more rock and roll sensibility under the surface, particularly when he picked up his guitar. There’s no doubting he has an expressive voice, yet I wished for a greater variety of mood. I hope as he develops, Tom can be himself, and worry less about offending middle England.

4) Bear's Den 7.5/10
This London trio is signed to Communion Music and released their first EP Agape in March. They performed beautifully, their warm, comforting folk being accompanied by great vocal harmonies and energetic drumming. At this stage in their career, they have yet to develop a strikingly original voice or performance style, but the influence of Americana was welcome. Recommended.

5) Little Green Cars 9/10
This was the third time I've seen the Irish band this year, and as the performing experience gained from their rapid rise is clearly playing dividends. They had even higher energy than previously, and have moulded their songs to emphasise the pop energy. Yet, although they didn't perform unplugged to this packed audience, their vocal harmonies remain distinctive. Little Green Cars was the highlight of my Dot to Dot Festival, and if you're a lover of indie folk, you should see them at the earliest opportunity.

6) Lucy Rose 8/10
Lucy Rose is known for her work with Bombay Bicycle Club. It’s tempting to compare her with fellow British folk singer Laura Marling: both are relatively introverted on stage, but Laura less so once she starts to sing. Lucy may be subtle, but her band gelled effectively and were clearly having fun. I was grateful to be at the front, since the audience were less quiet than ideal, and Lucy performed sat down with acoustic guitar. By the end of the hour, I was totally absorbed, and utterly charmed.

7) To Kill A King 7/10
Like Bear's Den signed to Communion Records, it's testament to the Leeds Band's persistence that this performance took place at all. Battling traffic and then sound problems, they performed an intimate, late night set with much energy; their folk harmonies rounding off an amazing six hours of music for me. In the closing song, they came out into the audience, and in rock and roll style Ian climbed onto a speaker.

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