Designer Magazine / presents...
Robin Nature-Bold & Band(ism) / Air Cav / Lucky Soul / Orphan Boy
Star & Garter - 9.2.06

Designer Magazine's first gig of the new year saw them invading the Star & Garter with 4 eclectic bands which stretched from Libertines-esque guitar openers through to the art-rock of Robin Nature-Bold. When you consider that previous exploits in the Star & Garter had included dancing with Morrissey impersonators at Smiths discos, avoiding chav's with flick knives to see Dear Eskiimo's first gig and being dropped off in the heart of the red light district after a wild goose chase for Ville Valo from HIM.

Orphan Boy arrived in Manchester from Cleethorpes less than 12 months ago and already their brand of "council pop" is making them one of the most talked about bands in the city. With the Orphanites down the front hours before the gig has even started there's one rule and that's to get as f**ked up as possible and then get f**ked some more. As half a dozen photographers down the front snap away, Liam Pedestrian and The Casinos lead the intimate venue into a mosh frenzy which hasn't been seen since those early Libertines gigs. An almost perfect blend of the Clash and the Jam the likes of "Satellites", "Birthday" and their own calling card "Orphan Boy" will see them breaking out of the North.

Lucky Soul were one of the highlights of last years In The City showcases, providing a respite from the bands who's aspirations went no higher than being a 3rd rate Futureheads or a z-list Killers. Sounding like they've listened to every great Motown record and Phil Spector production they embody the spirit of classic 60s girl group pop. Suited and booted they realize that what you wear makes as much a statement as how you sound and repeat the motto "Running shoes are for running in, not for playing guitars in" before they take to the stage.

Ali Howard on vocals cuts a striking image of a young Dusty Springfield, vocally she's no diva but lets the songs and energy carry themselves along and "shake shake shimmy's" to the likes of "Lips Are Unhappy", "Give Me Love" and "Mr Brittle Heart". A cover of "Get Ready" is thrown in and just seems like another classic in a seamless set. There's no doubt that Lucky Soul are going to breakthrough, it's just a case of how and when.

By the time Air Cav hit the stage it's safe to say that not much is making sense with far too much stella's necked. Battling through technical problems with the electric violin, this relatively new Manchester band, featuring Chris Nield from Innasence, wind their way through a set of trippy psychedelic electronic fused folk music. Imagine if you will that John Squire had kicked Ian Brown out of the Roses before they recorded the debut album and decided to record a largely instrumental album that sounded like Spiritualised on uppers complete with the Pogues violin player. If you were watching this sober you couldn't help but be drawn in, but intoxicated it's a riotous noise. The kinetic energy of "Call To Arms" with it's descending riffs that hypnotizes before the explosion of the instrumental chorus which sees arms flailing, pints dropped and legs slipping around the dancefloor. In comparison the bands first ever track recorded "Aurora", which mixes up a led Zep style riff with lush sweeping orchestrated violin, is a simply arranged groove based track. You get the sense that once they've built up a following with support slots like the Young Knives they'll eschew the traditional gig set up for their own Air Cav club nights where they hit the stage at 1am to a load of E'd up mentalists

Robin Nature-Bold and Band(ism) aren't so much a band as a performance art project that could compete with Leigh Bowery or the Mighty Boosh for sheer surrealism. Lead singer Robin Nature Bold (aka Mike Chavez-Dawson) runs the regular Auto Test Pilot nights over at Tiger Lounge, a night which brings together comedians, poets and live music for an alternative variety night. Bandism's live shows are a mix of all three if you like with the characters from the band dressed up as victorian dandies meets Phantom Of The Opera cast members while they play shimmery pop records like "Margate", folk jazz on "I Scream", stoner funk on "Donkey" and "Peacock" and the folk punk pollination of "Oxymoron". Manchester's leftfield leanings have turned up on the performance poetry scene over the past few years with the like of Chloe Poems and Rosie Lugosie, but Robin Nature-Bold and Band(ism) could just be the band that has absolutely no connection with Manchester's musical legacy and forges through something brand new and entirely original.

If these 4 bands aren't the bands you're talking about over the next 12 months than the entire music industry is fundamentally f**ked

Words: Alex McCann
Photos with borders: Karen McBride
Photos without borders: Shirlaine Forrest

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