Witness / Delta - Manchester Hop & Grape - 16.10.01

If the darlings of the indie press are to believed the future is definitely acoustic. However if you're one of the few unlucky punters to paid good money for one bloke, a stool and a cheap guitar you'll readily know that the whole acoustic scene is bollocks. The Roadwork's tour tries to put a new slant on things and rater than billing itself as an acoustically flavoured jaunt round the UK it goes for the equally unpalatable phrase of Nu-Country. First up are Grand Drive - great band, great tunes and perhaps the most traditional country act on the bill tonight - sadly we missed them but don't let that put you off. If their devotees are to be believed the other bands might as well pack up and go home now, which is what Delta should have done after their first rehearsal. Take the worst bits of Ocean Colour Scene, take away any trace of a tune, take away any trace of personality and basically your left with the most average pub band in the world....ever. If there's ever a reason for selective breeding then surely you only have to look at the sorry state of Delta.

Witness are my favourite band I used to hate which is strange considering I'm usually so decisive. To quote their old touring partners Gene "there must be something in the water" - either that or they've taken a good dose of prozac, cheered up a little and just happen to have written one of the most under-rated albums of the year "Under A Sun". Still carrying the same folk affected vocals a move to Brighton of all places has seen Witness take the emotional resonance of earlier recordings and infuse it with stadium driven rock records. In today's current climate its good to see a band that have finally been given the chance to grow an nurture their sound. If you haven't seen Witness in the last 6 months then you don't know what you're missing. Considering that they've travelled the path from dreary debut to one of the top 10 albums of the year you can only hope that the 3rd album finally establishes them as a force to be reckoned with.

Alex McCann