As January draws to an eventual end, Lucoo filled up the final Saturday with their all-dayer at Jimmy's with a line-up of many of the bands that have graced this stage in the past couple of years. We caught up with Maddy Storm, The Goa Express, Louie Louie, Gardenback, Hello Operator and Dantevilles with a packed hot and sweaty room full of fellow music fans.
Maddy Storm opens up proceedings as she has an evening engagement supporting The Barr Brothers over in Leeds and it's slightly surreal to be in the basement at 3.30 on the only afternoon this month it hasn't rained in Manchester, but she illuminates a dark Saturday with a stunning set that both confirms what we already know - that she's a unique talent with potential reach far beyond these intimate surroundings - as well as introducing us to new material that's already shoved aside some of the crowd favourites from her earlier shows. One song is so new that it hasn't got a name and the magnificent Blue Charade is possibly the best thing she's done so far, although it's followed by Behind which makes its case too. Her voice is of course the sort that stops you in your tracks and makes you listen, which the already packed Jimmy's room does.
The Goa Express are up next, the hardest working band in town not worried that they might be overdoing it, and judging by the size of the crowd they've attracted, they're still the right side of that line for now. Their songs are the antidote to the January blues, the way they use dual vocals and harmonies to lift songs out of the ordinary into something that sticks in your head is clever and something that they do better than most. Singles Goa and Kiss Me go down a storm and the set-closing Jam shows a depth of musical knowledge well beyond their tender years without ever sounding like they're simply copying someone else.
Louie Louie turn up in proper rock and roll style after their advertised stage time. Things are running late so it's not as big a problem as it might have been and they suffer a bit due to having no time to set up (Rita jokes that they're a professional band normally), but once their songs start up then any concerns are an afterthought. They've got a couple of new songs, one called Careless Collision and one so new it's not got a name, that really stand out. They've managed to incorporate some seductive and sultry grooves into these new songs that make them an even more potent live act, but they make it look so effortless that they don't lose any cool points by trying too hard. Rita's voice seems to be growing stronger and richer as the songs get stronger too. They've been on the verge for a while now of making a breakthrough and 2018 might be their time.
The issue with these all-dayers is the need to miss something out to get food and unfortunately that means we don't get to see The Nix, but by all reports they more than maintained the high standard so far. We get back just as Oldham's Gardenback start their first song. They too adopt a dual vocal approach but it's mostly in unison rather than lead and harmonies. For a three-piece they make a lot of noise too, but songs like Health And Wellbeing, Sleepless, Bury Me and one that they call a dance anthem. They also cover Talking Heads' Psycho Killer, one of those songs you cringe at the thought of someone having a go at, but they pull it off with some style. They're a band we hadn't heard of before, but who really impressed us.
Next up are Hello Operator, a band not lacking in confidence in their own ability to create huge dark and dirty slabs of rock and roll as they prepare for the release of their debut album later this year. Hallunication Lucifer is a big bold brash swagger of a song whilst recent single Oosh leaves a similar impression that this is a band that's aiming high. There's a lot of focus on songs from the album yet the fact the songs are unreleased doesn't seem to matter to either band or crowd. At one point Max is amongst us ensuring that there's a connection between band and audience. They go down a storm in a packed room that's now getting hot and sweaty.
The headline slot goes to Dantevilles and tonight they seem reinvigorated and refocused. Their new single Blackjack is unmistakably them, but shows how they're developing as a band. They're intense and they're less inclined to let their desire to experiment, other than a long sampled intro, detract from the fact that they've got a set full of songs that draw the listener in with hooks and melodies that can be irresistible. Perfect Place, Graffiti, It Might Be Tomorrow are still present and correct, but the likes of Madness, Montreal and Patience Is Calling show that the well is far from dry and they'll be able to pick the momentum back up and kick on in 2018. They go down a storm with a crowd that's still packed out the room seven hours after it all started.
Maddy Storm is on Facebook and Twitter.
The Goa Express are on Facebook and Twitter.
Louie Louie's official website can be found here and they are on Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud.
Gardenback are on Facebook and Twitter.
Hello Operator are on Facebook and Twitter.
Dantevilles are on Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud.