One of Manchester's established and one of the finest upcoming bands joined forces took a trip on the tram down to the excellent Waterside Arts Centre in Sale to look back at one of the most under-rated albums of the Madchester era and give a glimpse of some of the best of what's coming out of the city today.
The Northstand have been building a reputation as a live band throughout this year and it's not difficult to see why. Even though this stage and room is bigger than they're used to, they don't just grow into it, they fill it as if this is their natural habitat.
Front man Andrew has all the natural poise and swagger that makes him the ideal leader of the band and he backs it up with a voice that punches its way through the raucous mix of guitar anthems that veer off into funkier territory. Like My Igloo, they're taking that traditional Mancunian sound that Oasis mastered and twisting and tweaking it into something different and more exciting. Hold On and new song Assassins With A Smile are cases in point, but Let It Go is the undoubted star of the show. Driven by a dirty deep bass line and ferocious drums, it's a rabble-rousing call to arms.
Like most great all-male bands, The Northstand have that gang mentality and feel that gels them together, yet they have that mysterious something else that stands them out from the crowd. Expect big things from them.
A Northside reunion in 2014 was probably not one of the things you could have predicted in the mid-1990s. The demise of Factory and the cultural backlash to the Madchester phenomenon saw off the likes of Northside and the majority of the second wave of bands to come through that scene. What's less known is that they did keep going and demoed a series of tracks for a second album. The next phase of this reunion in 2015 is to actually commit that to record, but tonight we're here to celebrate their debut Chicken Rhythms as well as to get an insight into that second record.
The compere describes Northside as one of the greatest bands to come out of Manchester. Whilst that's probably exaggerating their importance, they certainly were at the forefront when unfair kickings were being dished out at the time. Rather than ply in the big tunes, they were much more groove-focused and that's still very evident tonight right from the opener Funky Munky through to the crescendo of their best-loved tracks such as Moody Places, Shall We Take A Trip, My Rising Star and Take 5 which form the back end of the set. However, that doesn't mean the set isn't laced with killer tunes such as Tour De World and "new" song Pleasuredome from the aborted second album sessions as well as those four aforementioned tracks.
One of the accusations thrown at them at the time was that they couldn't play live. Tonight they sound an incredibly tight unit, handling those loose grooves in effortless style, not just recreating the vibe of the album, but adding a freshness to the sound that brings it forward twenty years. There's clearly a bond between them and tonight they sound like a band at the top of their game.
What's great about the set as well is that it's a celebration. Whilst a few bands of that era have come back and played to huge crowds that never got them first time round (and quite often second time round as well, just being there for the event), this is different. Everyone is singing along with every word to the Chicken Rhythms tracks and everyone's dancing, including Dermo, who looks like he's having the time of his life, a real jack-in-the-box, prowling the stage, stopping to acknowledge people in the audience including the guy in whose flat he wrote A Change Is On Its Way and laughing at the comedian who shouts out for The Mock Turtles' Can You Dig It?
Cynics might put down this type of reunion, but you only have to look round the few hundred people in the room tonight and see how these songs still create a communion even a quarter of a century after their creation. There's no denying the power of music that can do that and Northside still can. 2015 promises to be an interesting year.
Northside played Funky Munky, Tour De World, Practice Makes Perfect, Pleasuredome, Who's To Blame, Weight Of Air, A Change Is On Its Way, Wishful Thinking, Moody Places, My Rising Star, Shall We Take A Trip and Yeah Man.
Andy Carson's full set of photos from the gig can be found at this Flickr account.
The Northstand are on Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud. They headline Salford's Eagle Inn on 1st November.
Northside are on Twitter and Facebook. They play the following dates before taking a break to record their second album scheduled for late 2015 :
7th November - York The Duchess
8th November - Liverpool Lomax
14th November - Barrow-In-Furness The Nines
28th November - Glasgow The Admiral
29th November - Barnsley Opium 10
5th December - Sheffield The Rocking Chair
6th December - Blackburn The Live Lounge
12th December - Swansea The Garage