M60 is the first band we catch and like so many bands from this city, they wear their hearts on their sleeves. Songs like Somersault, Honey and two new ones called Ashtray and Blindside are big strong anthemic tunes that get their partisan audience moving. They deliver them with an energy that it's impossible not to be drawn in by, big songs with big choruses and an attitude to match. Front man Matthew has an infectious stage presence that gives them an extra emphasis that should help them stand out from the crowd in 2017. They've brought a fair crew of their own too that make it feel like their own gig rather than an early evening support slot. Not even a Christmas song (Slade's Merry Christmas Everybody) can ruin it.
Tonight is Sheffield's Oddity Road's first gig in Manchester and it's an impressive debut. There's an angular approach to their songs, either through Dan on guitar or Joel on bass, that creates a whirlwind sound that it's difficult not to get caught up in. Recent single You and previous one Handshake are a good starting point for a new listener as you could imagine both of them coming out of your radio or in halls bigger than this, but there's a song called Gabriella and a slower one called Lost In The City that show that they're capable of varying their sound and delivering something a little different.
There's a growing hype around Stillia ahead of the release of their debut album early next year and it's not difficult to see why on the basis of their set. Feet firmly planted in the anthemic rock that talks to you territory that Catfish and the Bottlemen landed in a couple of years ago, they take no prisoners with their no-holds barred approach and it's a real success in that they manage to both have the impact that they aim for, but whilst still retaining their own personalities in the songs. They open with recent single Let Me In and that sets the tone for the rest of the set which concludes with a huge song called Sometimes which is surely destined to be a big single for them next year when the album comes out. There's plenty more in between that too - 4am and their penultimate song Cold Coffee are equally strident, confident and in your face tracks that make no compromises. There's plenty of bands doing this four boys in a band thing at the moment, so it takes a lot to stand out and Stillia do just that.
It's been quite a year for Jordan Allen and his band, but it all feels like a precursor to a huge 2017. They've been beavering away on new material that they're ready to unleash in the new year and if the songs they play tonight including their next single 110 Ways To Make Things Better which is sure to catapult him from contender to player. Another song from the EP that will accompany it Imperial Leather Dreamer shows Jordan to be in a rich vein of songwriting form that continues in the line of fine singles he's released over the past few years - Remembered, Daydreamer's Girlfriend, Helter Skelter and the set-closing Set In Stone to name just a few.
What makes Jordan stand out is his social commentary, each of these songs is cleverly crafted from observations of happenings around him and that's what makes these songs so accessible, because people can relate to the songs. He's developed from a shy gangly Bolton lad to a man who's capable of holding an audience in the palm of his hand, at moments like a rap artist reeling off line by line one after another, the next having the audience eating out of the palm of his hand, bouncing around, girls on shoulders, dubious inflatables being thrown around the room to the sound of anthems that mean something to people. He does this with the savvy of someone who knows what it takes to be taken seriously by the money men in the business without losing the connection to the people who he's grown up with in the way Blossoms have done. 2017 is going to be Jordan Allen's year and there's nothing you can do about it.
Jordan Allen's official website can be found here and he is on Facebook and Twitter.
Stillia are on Facebook and Twitter.
Oddity Road are on Facebook and Twitter.
M60 are on Facebook and Twitter.