Friday 28 April 2023

Cindy / Test Card Girl - Manchester Gullivers - 27th April 2023

San Francisco's Cindy brought their UK tour in support of their most recent album Why Not Now to the ballroom of Gullivers in Manchester's Northern Quarter on Thursday night. A set that pulled from each of their four albums to date delighted a small but hugely appreciative Manchester audience

Test Card Girl opens up the evening. She tells us this is her first gig for a while as she's recently had a baby and apologises profusely for being rusty. She repeats this several times as she plays with her box of tricks laid out in front of her. Rather than be irritating it's very engaging as she explains the stories behind the songs, like opener Like A Train which was about being dumped on an elevator seventeen years ago (and thankfully she's over it) and Holds Me Down, a 2020 single that she recently revisited as part of Factory International's Factory Sounds programme. My Summer Song is, like many artists have, a lockdown song, when she started this project as a way of preventing herself going mad locked up in a flat. Her final song Fly was recorded with Andy Hargreaves of I Am Kloot.

There's about thirty people in the room when Cindy take to the stage, a disappointing turn out for a city that has a reputation of supporting touring artists, but every one in the room is deathly silent while the band plays, as it should be, drawn in and infatuated by the soft seductive sound of Cindy. Even though there's five of them they never once seek to overpower the audience with volume or impress with between song chat or any rock and roll bravado. Everything is about the calming influence of the fourteen songs they zoom through in forty-five minutes.

They touch all bases from across their four albums, reflecting on the fact that as a band from across the Atlantic they don't get the opportunity often to come to Manchester, a city Karina tells us has as much rain as their native San Francisco. Other than the encore of Deer In Japan the songs all come in at two to three minutes, each one weaving its own magical path and demonstrating Cindy's ceaseless commitment to beautifully crafted understated songs that sit perfectly alongside Karina's half-spoken half-sung vocals. 

When they loosen the shackles a little, like on Wrong Answer where fuzzy guitars take the lead or the infectiously jangly Way Out Here from their 2019 self-titled debut, it's done with a targeted control of the pace and the impact of the song. A couple of songs mid-set, August and Saw It All, have viola in them, but mostly Cindy make impeccable use of the modest tools they have at their disposal. This is music to drift away to, to allow to wash over and soothe you. Gorgeously melancholy Cindy are one of the finest proponents of this type of music around.

Cindy played Fixed Idea, The Price Is Right, The Common Era, Et Surtout, Free Advice, Wrong Answer, August, Saw It All, A Trumpet On The Hillside, Party Store, Way Over Here, Likely Story, Why Not Now and Deer In Japan.

Cindy are on Facebook and Twitter and all their albums can be bought on Bandcamp.

Their UK tour continues at Leeds Wharf Chambers (April 28), Glasgow Mono (29) and Newcastle Cumberland Arms (30). 

Test Card Girl's website can be found here and she is on Facebook and Twitter.


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