Saturday 19 November 2022

Sundowners - Manchester Ditto - 19th November 2022

Sundowners concluded their intimate record store tour in support of their Pulling Back The Night album with an afternoon set at Ditto off Albert Square in Manchester. Performing tracks from the album as well as their two previous offerings as well as a special cover version, Fiona and Niamh delighted an attentive crowd with a set full of songs laced with beautiful harmonies, uplifting songwriting and accompanied by witty in-between song chat about the songs and their creation.

It had been five years since Sundowners last album Cut The Master, the follow-up to 2015's self-titled album and with guitarist Alfie off on duties managing the likes of Jamie Webster (as well as babysitting his and Niamh's son) and the rest of the band working with other artists, it looked like Sundowners might be over. Fiona and Niamh appeared on the last Blossoms album Ribbon Around The Bomb, but behind the scenes had been working on their third album as a duo and collaborating with the likes of Paul Weller and Clean Cut Kid. Pulling Back The Night was released earlier this year, their strongest and most cohesive record to date, full of everything that made people swoon over the original incarnation of the band.

The set they play covers most bases of their career to date - Back To You and Hummingbird from the debut, the title track and final song Find Out For Yourself from Cut The Master and a series of tracks from Pulling Back The Night as well as their own interpretation of The Jam's In The City.

It's the new songs that sparkle brightest, albeit the older ones will never lose their lustre given the seemingly effortless hooks that run through all their three albums and the heavenly combination of their two voices. Songs like Wonderful and Pull Back The Night, co-written with Clean Cut Kid, and the Paul Weller / Steve Pilgrim co-write A Thousand Doors are beautifully crafted songs that accentuate the harmonies and the emotional power that Fiona and Niamh craft when their two voices combine. With Niamh on acoustic and Fiona alternating between electric guitar and hand-held percussion, the music is kept relatively simple to let them shine through even brighter.

There's a lot of humour as well, causing Fiona to spit her drink out at one point, telling stories of how they got described as similar to First Aid Kit the previous night with them quipping back that they're the council estate version. Whilst the bright lights of the coffee shop and the passing masses of Christmas shoppers might make this an unusual and not very traditional gig experience, Sundowners very much made it feel like one. They're one of those bands that once you discover them you'll be unable to resist falling for the charms of their songs but who, for some reason, have never quite gathered the acclaim for them that they deserve. 

Sundowners are on Facebook and Twitter. Pulling Back The Night can be ordered from their Bandcamp on CD and vinyl.

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