There appears to be a trend in the alternative pubs and bars of Manchester; that the more gaudy retro crap you have on the walls, the more attractive your patrons are. This may just be a false perception, because plastic junk shop shit, wooden enormo-lizards or neon Dolly Parton wallpapers may simply detract from the mingers in the crowd, but, generally speaking, The Deaf Institute and Odder will attract more of the sculpted goddess population than, say, the student union bar at the Academies.
Got some old typewriters behind the bar?
Here, have some fashion students.
(Not that you have to be hot to study fashion of course, but it generally helps if you don’t feel like a wet sandbag when you go clothes shopping.)
In one of life’s spiteful twists, it’s generally the bars with the stuffed reindeer and furry wallpaper that provide us with the best live entertainment, albeit enjoyed from the darkest shadows of the establishment, where no-one can see that your jumper’s gone through at the elbows and your face is shinier than the sun. We must face our inadequacies if we want to enjoy Rook and The Ravens on a Sunday night.
Thankfully, for last night’s comeback Sideways Saloon session (the first at Odder, after relocating from the infinitely more ugly-friendly Bay Horse basement), I found us a dark corner to loiter in (Jacko came with me, although I am casting no aspersions on his genes) and I had stopped staring at all the thin people within half an hour. Things were looking up!
Sideways Saloon is run primarily by Adam from The Travelling Band, with Spenny looking after sound stuff and a rotating selection of DJs from the Revolver and Growl clubnights, so Adam did a few solo bits and pieces to start things off yesterday. He’s my favourite singer from The Travelling Band, although he didn’t do Lanes Of Names, and there was no banjo last night either, so we really must deduct points. This is a picture of Adam, taken on my mobile phone from dim shadows yesterday. Note the massive vase and sunflowers.
Then Sam and Tim from Ten Bears did a few songs, including Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark, but mainly their own stuff. Ten Bears used to be called The Deadbeats, and they used to be all like “yeah, we’re really retro and country and we sit down on bales of hay to play our gigs”, which was amazing, but then they totally electrified and stood up at gigs and it was all a bit Bob Dylan at the Free Trade Hall. Now they have one song that starts with a dog barking, which they attempted to do a near-acoustic version of last night, and I was surprised that it worked. Listen to the full-powered version here, and try to imagine a less hairy keyboard player, because there have been line-up changes since this performance.
Then we were expecting Rook and The Ravens, except some other guys showed up who definitely weren’t Rook and The Ravens. I was all indignant and demanding answers for a couple of minutes, and then the imposter band turned out to be amazing and everything was cool again. They were called The Sapphires, and there was a beatboxer and a John Martyn-a-like (not in looks though, don’t forget that Odder’s only for hotties) and Jacko was all like “do you think he knows how much he sounds like John Martyn?” and I was like “are you kidding? I bet this is the first time that guy’s left the house since he died.” Jacko’s looking for a new band right now. He should totally join The Sapphires.
And then there was Rook and The Ravens, who used to make below-par Dad-rock until about six months ago when they all ate super-charged Levon Helm Weetabix and came back to life as the band that Ten Bears used to be when they were The Deadbeats, except with more electric guitar. Their song Make Ends Meet appeals to the throwback in me in the same way that Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses makes me want to act out the supermarket scene.
“You mean you forgot cranberries too?”
OMG. Just been to Rook and The Raven’s MySpace and it turns out they’re from Langley. Langley! That’s just near Macclesfield! No-one good comes from Macclesfield!