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The Sticks plus guests - Dry Bar Manchester - 1.7.11

While the rest of the world seems to be preoccupied with tennis, strikes and that shindig on a muddy farm, it’s lucky that Designer Magazine remembered that someone has to take care of the serious business of quality live music. Glastonbury may have provided three debatable headliners last weekend, but Dry Bar showcased three headline acts for the price of one, with no need to dig out the wellies or re-mortgage your house for the privilege.

Mathew Petit kicked off the night with a distinctive voice that was anything but petite. He played a set of beautifully simple but captivating acoustic songs such as ‘Hands’ and ‘Affected by Attention’, with lyrics about teenage troubles. To top it off, he was joined on stage for a truly irresistible duet cover of Robyn’s ‘Be Mine’.

The charismatically named and natured If You Like To Dance were up next, and were successful in their quest ’to make new friends’- if the spontaneous mid-set skanking was anything to go by. Evidently the Dry Bar crowd is fond of the occasional dance. Their fun-injected pop rock was a hit with the crowd (Think: Jimmy Eat World plugged into a disco ball), and more fuel was added to the fire of the theory that people not liking Ke$ha is actually a conspiracy, with their medley of songs from ‘Pop’s First Lady of Autotune’ going down just as well. They also cast their pop-punk magic over ‘A-Team’ from the world’s current favourite guy – Ed Sheeran.

The first of the headlines were Cut The Kids. The kids in question played an innovative set - scattered with bongo drumming and a medolica - which can only be described as electro-depression, pioneered by the likes of The XX and White Lies. A sound reminiscent of the New Order and Factory Records empire days of Dry Bar were given a modern twist in the form of fourth member Mac (of the Apple variety) who provided intense crescendos and intoxicating beats, completed by booming ‘Tom-from-Editors’ style vocals.

Taking a reggae-shaped detour from proceedings, The Royals returned to Dry Bar, climbing their way up the listings since their slot earlier this year. Their potential (pardon the Alan Sugar-ism) is not only evident here; the Wilmslow four-piece’s upbeat ska tribute ‘Alive in the 80’s’ has been played in America, showing that Wills and Kate aren’t the only Royals causing a stir on the other side of the pond. The sunny and seasonal reggae sounds of ‘Summer’ and the dark, brooding ‘Stacey’ proved to be a perfect combination, and displayed a knack of song writing so head-bobbingly good you’re sure you’ve known the tunes forever.

Rounding off the night in style was a powerhouse of a five-piece; The Sticks, with complimenting male/female vocals. The latter of whom displayed a breathtaking vocal spectrum ranging from a quaint Kate Nash to a roaring Laura Mary-Carter (Beyoncé and Glasto, take note, that’s girl power). The delicate introductions of the likes of ‘Shell Island’ that gave way to thundering choruses full of retro rock and roll charm and sharp-tounged lyrics filled the room and easily provided your Recommended Daily Allowance of cool.

Without even a scrap of mud, a safe distance away from the nearest portaloo. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr Eavis.

Words: Lucy Holt
Photos: Jordon Parry

The Sticks / Cut The Kids - Dry Bar Manchester - 1.7.11

Cut The Kids made a terrific impression with their electro-indie grooves, weaving a complex sound that you might think to be beyond the scope of a three-piece. It is pleasantly difficult to pin these guys down – the second you think ‘Joy Division’ with any certainty you’re thrown an ‘Innerpartysystem’-esque curveball. Slick manning of the keys and pads was complimented by subtle guitar riffs and singer Benzo May’s poignant baritone, not to mention his warm vibe with the crowd. The air was crackling; these Bury boys are definitely onto something here.

Fans were well packed-in by the time The Sticks took to the stage as the final act of the evening. This band run the indie/rock slalom with style; whopping horsepower from the drums drives a muscular rhythm section and with such well-timed speed-changes they elevate themselves above other comfortable, boring, indie acts who might claim to be their peers. On the night The Sticks execute each tune with the coolness and poise befitting a headline act, and the vocal harmonies – not to mention the rhythm guitarist shredding seven shades out of his Telecaster – are something to behold. This is a band with a well-earned swagger and they proved to be a great way to wrap up a top night.

Words: Sean Gibson
Photos: Jordon Parry



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