Trawling through the flittering memories of the previous days experiences, unconfirmed flashbacks randomly appear. Did I really agree to help a group of Hells Angels to promote a charity event? Do I look like a person who "does key fobs" as requested by two young ladies. And the dancers in the window of the Baby Grand, reminded me of Amsterdam. So what was the point of the bloke doing the fire eating demonstration?

With a moniker such as "Long Blondes" (at M2) there is going to be a hint of irony and sure enough, none of the 3 women are blonde, or even have relatively long hair. Neither do the blokes. There's a good crowd in to see them which is surprising when you realise that there is no draft beers and the bottle prices are the wrong side of £3. With a voice resembling the piercing edge of Kate Pierson (B52's) and a style that is reminiscent of the Cramps with some up tempo surf sounds, the afternoon is off to a good start

Dressed in black, which seems to be a theme of the event, the all male "Apartments" (M2) blast onto the stage with an urgency to make up for their late start. They have some tongue in cheek wit ("Everyone thinks I'm paranoid") and a front man who's willing to engage the audience with his between song banter. The attacking guitars and frenetic output resemble the Faint without the keyboards, but the attack is unrelenting and maybe an element of subtlety would vary the assault

Puressence (M2) prove that they can still drag the crowds in, so all spaces on the floor have been filled. James' voice is a pure and ethereal as always. In the eyes of Alex, Kevin looks like Mourinho with his buttoned up overcoat, but from the opening notes of "I Suppose", the faithful are happy

Some aural relief from guitar blasts is provided by Catherine Feeney over at the Late Room. Backed with a squeezebox, plus an guitar played sideways on, the haunting fragility of her voice manages to stop most of the chit chat at the bar and focus the bleary eyes of the delegates onto her, providing a good example of the diversity of the musical fare available at ITC.

Upstairs at Life Café, Quartz Pryce & the Pryceless Kid are rapping about how many verses there are to go, and who's turn it is next to dish out some nonsense

Another woman with a sense of the ironic is Hilda, aka Jo Hilditch from nearby Didsbury, (Bar 38). The name may conjure images of Hilda Baker, but don't be misled. With what seems like a mini orchestra on stage, there's a smooth elegance around, a throw back to the "cool" epitomised by the Sinatra/Rat Pack crowd. This time around, Hilda is the one dispensing silky sounds in a deliberately flirtatious manner

An enjoyable bash of lo-fi indie thrash is played by Good Shoes (Late Room) before it's across to see, the skeletal Steve Jones of Moco (M2) who doesn't so much take to the stage as bursts out of it. The security in the venue is tight for some reason, with any bags left around being searched, so Steve limits his excursions to the stage area, although you get the feeling that he has been eying up the balcony/VIP as vantage point for him to demonstrate his agility as a backdrop to the band as they push out their infectious chords and energetic beats.

The Noisettes remember the time of Madness in their heyday, and try to create the slap stick feeling by unfurling a battered umbrella, whilst the two vocalists run about the stage and shout things at a bemused and unengaged audience

Mohair (Late Room) seem to be one of the bands that get touted as the "ones to watch". Sa the venue is packed and the band are enjoying it. Rooted in the indie guitar bands furrow, they sling out furious guitar chords to a receptive audience that wants more.

The start to the Mystery Jets (M2) looks unpromising- the floor is empty. Ten minutes later its rammed with people moving and shaking to the "everything and the Kitchen sink" approach

After all the intensity of the previous bands, Junk TV (Late Room) provide some laid back, well executed honk tonk blues to a rapidly thinning crowd that is already in search of the next party/free bar.

Words & Pictures: Ged Camera

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