Tuesday 14 March 2017

Bonfire Nights / Crimsons / DUSST / Maddy Storm - Manchester Castle - 12th March 2017

Sunday night saw the latest instalment of the Astral Elevator psyche-influenced gig night in Manchester. The twentieth show from the independent promoter was probably their finest yet, with four acts of the highest quality, each with their own diverse style which thrilled a packed out Castle Hotel music room in Manchester.

Opening proceedings on the night is Maddy Storm, or Maddy Star as our over-exuberant compere calls her in his dramatic introduction. He may well inadvertently have made his point as Maddy's set is a hugely impressive one, a dramatic performance that showcases a voice that can effortlessly master a number of ranges and styles. Songs like The Tempest and an as-yet-untitled new one require a controlled power which she exercises with imperious style, whilst Water and the opener I'm Not The One demonstrate something more delicate, searching but without diluting the impact it has on the audience, many of whom are watching her for the first time. She even makes a cover of The Clash's Rock The Casbah feel like her own. She finishes off the set with her forthcoming single To The Sun, which is set to make her known to a much bigger audience.

Next up is Liverpool's DUSST, a real good-time band, unashamed of their psyche influences, but with a groove and rhythm of their own, jumping from one style to another within the blink of an eye that takes the audience with them. Their single Happiness On The Horizon and their closing track Summer are cases in point, one minute feeling like a perfect West Coast psyche pop song that wouldn't sound out of place blasting out of open tops on Haight-Astbury, the next veering off into the distance in a whirlwind of keyboards and fluid guitars that take the audience with them. A seriously. impressive set.

Crimsons have been making waves with a series of increasingly imposing and impressive sets and tonight they need to be on the top of their game to keep up with what's gone before them and what's to come, but you also feel like they're going to deliver. They've got darker and dirtier than they've ever been before, their natural showmanship ratcheted up another level to amplify the visual drama that goes hand in hand with the electric vibes of songs like Idle Ways and Shy Talk and their sex-drenched cover of I Just Wanna Make Love To You, that's perfect for the sauna-like conditions that the room reaches during the set as the front rows lose themselves in the music.

It's quite a challenge for Bonfire Nights that's been laid down by the first three bands, but they accept the gauntlet and throw it straight back. The four-piece are a fabulous fusion of styles, one minute almost bubblegum pop tones with Steve, Suzie and Ruth's vocals combining, another creating an intoxicating atmosphere and the next heading off into the near distance in a melee of keys, drums and guitars.

Their set features most of last year's album Entopica Phenomica coupled with their debut single Own Worst Enemy which finishes off the evening in glorious fashion. It's hard to pick a highlight although Crossing Wires and Mesmer Isles would probably just about shade it for us. There's an infectious energy in everything they do that transmits to a crowd that starts off restrained and waiting to be impressed and finishes in love with their new favourite band, a feeling that's amplified in the conversations we have with them afterwards.

Bonfire Nights' official site can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.

Crimsons are on Facebook and Twitter.

Dusst are on Facebook and Twitter.

Maddy Storm is on Facebook and Twitter.

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