I used to live near to the south coast of England, almost the opposite of Manchester within the English context. It taught me lessons. Mainly lessons about what will happen to people should they linger between hedgerows a little too long and allow the spirit of natural humanity warp along the lines it was (un)designed before TV and aspirational magazines laid our these imperial Roman pathways to bullshit nirvanas. People are strangely like trees, and will grow in any number of directions if they are allowed. I'm just not sure we are allowed.
Manchester has its own problems with wrong-headed pathways, but occasionally their Renaissance image is scored by a passing antler, by a talented troll. I found out last minute about a gig by a couple of touring southerners at Uluru, which is an almost pleasingly weird venue for live music. There is practically no-one there, and those that are there are probably there just to have a drink – or so it seems. Due to cancelled gigs in Buxton, they have decided to play wherever there is even a tiny welcome, and Chorlton has a chance to stand up to its hippy reputation.
Animal Magic Tricks had caught my ear before, but is such a timid, low-key type of music that making sure your ear keeps caught can be a bit of a challenge. The recorded music that I've heard involves beautiful layers of tape hiss, whispered, fluttering vocals, all the kind of thing that doesn't necessarily cut it in Manchester. It's not the kind of art school chick-warbling that was clogging the weekend supplements at the beginning of the year either.
One tune begins with a audio book clip from Thomas Hardy, which is slowed and continues in the background as she sings another tune on top. I like the strangeness. People chatter and don't really seem to get it. Animal Magic Tricks is a lone ginger woman in vaguely kooky gear, that kind of lacey farmhouse that middle-class women wore in the seventies, playing the guitar a bit and some ancient, woozy keyboard. The dress code shouldn't matter, yet I note it nonetheless.
Men Diamler looks like an impossibly skinny Arsene Wenger, even slightly hunchbacked. He has acolytes in the audience, who have followed him over from a gig the previous night, and it is easy to see why. He stamps his feet on the floorboards, he moves to the middle of the room to be nearer his audience, he doesn't need a microphone. He is loud. He has the air of a hedge poet, a very slightly unkempt Arsene Wenger hedge poet. A little like a stampy, guitar thumping Thom Yorke. He has blatantly come up from the South of England. He never stays on his little wooden chair for long, jumping up to stamp along the floorboards again.
Lou feels a little uncomfortable, as though her evening has been impinged upon; but I appreciate the effort he's making. Far better he comes and sings to people who are chatting in the background than sulk from a stage or expect his acolytes to hush on his behalf. The lyrics too are pithy and poetic, if a little down on humanity and all that stuff. People are nothing more than “saline”, he reckons. The melodies are seemingly effortless, but this is belied by his bloody blisters. While the assembled ask for an encore, all he can manage is to spring from his chair and show us all his damaged fingers. But in a sweet way.
This is Chorlton. Isn't this supposed to happening all the time now?