The Night And Day provided the home (our second one) to the latest Scruff Of The Neck Records showcase night featuring four very different bands from Manchester and further afield. New York Tourists headed up a bill featuring South Wales heroes Trampolene, local three-piece Crimsons and the stunning Crossfire playing only their seventh gig.
There's a reasonable crowd in as early as 7.45 for openers Crossfire and it's immediately evident why once they start playing. The band that only formed earlier this year at university are already exceptionally accomplished and polished at what they do. Their core is the dual vocals of Phoebe Taylor and Harry Preen and it's that combination that marks them out as different from the pack. Phoebe's voice is deep and rich in tone whilst Harry's has much more air and pop tones to it, but they work together fantastically to create something that's both immediate and that you could imagine hearing hour after hour on daytime radio. They're about more than that though, guitarist Darragh has the effortless cool look to him, but when he lets loose the sounds he creates are frankly astonishing and Tom on bass and Gabriel on drums provide the backing, the framework and the bones of a band that will be huge in time.
Next up are Crimsons who come from another end of the musical spectrum. Their ouevre is somewhat darker, their cool a little more studied especially the moment when Sam starts to play his guitar with his teeth and then behind his back. There's tinges of The Doors in songs like Pictures Of Pictures, Dichotomy and Show Me The Pictures and they save their best song, an expansive as-yet-untitled one, for last. In fact the only time it threatens to go awry is when they cover I Just Want To Make Love To You, but they put their own personalities across it to the extent that even that can be considered a success. They're still a band in their infancy, their debut single I Bring The Rain is coming out soon, but they're one with a lot of promise.
We're surprised, no disrepect to New York Tourists, that Trampolene aren't headlining. Jack is fresh from spending his spring with The Libertines and Pete Doherty and you suspect he'd play a gig to one man and his dog such is his obvious love of being on stage and interacting with his fans. He starts with the acutely observed poem Poundland which he dedicates to a friend in the audience who works in Poundstretcher. He then plays Alcohol Kiss aided by just an acoustic guitar before his band mates bound onto stage and they play it with a full band. It's the sort of trick that might turn those who could make them rich or famous away, but the assembled bunch of us love it. The set focuses heavily on early singles - My Bourgeoisie Girl, Under The Strobelight, It's Only Rock And Roll and You Do Nothing For Me - each of which is delivered with a ferocity and a passion that really should see them getting the same adulation as Doherty who has championed them feverishly as kindred spirits.
They have issues with the bass drum so Jack just recites a couple more poems - one about ketamine and Artwork Of Youth, a tale of his childhood told through memories of individuals with the punchline that he was first to escape. He tries to get a group of people up on stage for the final song but is told in no uncertain terms by the sound man that it's not happening. It's probably for technical reasons, but it denies us that connection that Trampolene make with their fanbase. They're one of us, as evidenced by Jack's insistence on hugging everyone and thanking them for coming after the gig. They're too loose cannons, seen as a potential liability by the sterile faceless money men in the London music business, but Trampolene are the real deal, a proper fucking rock and roll band. And we love them as much as they love us.
It's a hard act for New York Tourists to follow, but they've brought in their own boozed up contingent from up the road in Blackburn and their own terrace "NYT" chant. Right from the start they aim for the jugular, their set is rammed full of ten songs that aim for the skies and hit the spot. Big riffs, sections that are ripe for audience participation and, in Gary Taylor, a leader who knows how to orchestrate his devotees. Whilst at times it feels a little polished for our tastes, not a criticism mind, it's impossible not to be lifted up by the energy that they create and the passion they devour from the beer-spilling crowd that have taken over the floor in front of the stage. People here know every word and hang on them and they know when to join in and the band give them plenty of opportunity to do just that. Dead Man's Leather and their final song Sirens are the highlights of the set, but it's hard to choose them given that the standard hardly drops throughout. That "NYT" chant sends them off into the night, mission accomplished and a few new fans won over as well.
New York Tourists' official website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.
Trampolene's official website can be found here. They are also on Facebook and Twitter.
Crimsons are on Facebook and Twitter.
Crossfire's official website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.