(Pic: The Second Floor)
The Cardinals / The Second Floor - Big Hands - 10.8.05

Since playing the Designer Magazine 6th Birthday Bash a few months ago, The Cardinals have played for virtually every promoter in Manchester, but this gig at Big Hands surely must break some EU Regulations. Normally the haunt for bands post gig piss-ups this intimate (in this case the size of your kitchen) venue tonight is hosting two of Manchester's finest bands, The Cardinals and The Second Floor, where the drummers gets to laugh at the rest of the band from his own personal alcove as the rest of the band struggle with their own personal space.

The Second Floor owe little to Manchester's musical heritage and instead dip into the likes of Spacemen 3 and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club for their influence. Sonic purveyors of noise they layer each track up into a hypnotic drone as the strobe lights draw you into a trance with the vocals of Noel Watkinson ticking things over to the next musical passage (the Second Floor don't deal in verses and choruses). "Night Vision" is full on crunching power chords and hammond stabs until it builds to a crescendo of swirling white noise and pounding beats. "Tremolo Heart" is the closest they get to a conventional structure with it's alt-country lite meets Mark E Smith-isms. "Summer Girl" is a waltz on the darkside with a repetitive hammond refrain which should nag, but gets under the skin and doesn't let go. The Second Floor are a band making their own movement rather than trying desperately to fit into the zeitgeist.

(Pic: The Cardinals)

The last gig The Cardinals played in Manchester ended up in chaos. A shambolic set fuelled by an afternoon session was just about rescued by Seven and Joe leaping from the stage to tw*t a heckler who'd been at them all night. It turns out both of them had ended up shagging his ex and the guy had took the hump. It's these sort of events that are becoming as legendary as their music around the city.

A few days ago at D Percussion, Seven was walking around Castlefield after a 3 day bender mouthing off about how Manchester bands try and go for the attitude, but none of them have the tunes. The tunes are one thing the Cardinals have by the bucketload. "All Talk", the bands first single, has the hallmarks of skyscrapingly epic early U2. A simple guitar riff bolstered by a zillion effects pedals and hey presto Rez is Manchester answer to The Edge and just about the only guitarist who could take the crown from Johnny Marr as genius axeman. "Calling For Arms" starts off as if it's going to go off on some freestyle jazz odyssey with Howard Moon of the Mighty Boosh getting off on the vibes, thankfully is rescued about 30 seconds in with a Smiths jangle and 4/4 beat which is straight out of New Orders book of dancibility. "Don't Talk To Us" is a hands aloft lighter ballad for the Hollyoaks extras (and we're being serious here) which ends in a frenzy with dancing girls storming the stage.

Another storming show from the Cardinals and they still haven't unleashed the trump card number 1 "smelly piece of cheese" which may be called "Get Me Outta Here". It's been coming a long time, but The Cardinal stime is now!!!

Alex McCann

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