BBC Manchester Introducing's team of contributors were out and about on Tuesday at In The City to capture some of the bands playing the event.
- The Attic, 7pm (Colin Warhurst)
With lead electric guitar carving its way through their tracks in a playful manner, Twe1v3 are harmless enough to begin with. At the better end of their spectrum, they had touches of Feeder and Foo Fighters. However, these great touches were all undone by the band's own hand. When their intros opened up into short punchy drum attacks and finger flying solos, they were fine, but revisiting the same tired and un-distinct chorus, several times over, over too many long agonising and dull minutes made me want to pull the plug and call time three tracks in.
These guys looked the trendy Kings Of Leon part, but once started, you couldn't help but wish that more time had been spent on rehearsals than on appearance. They aimed high, but often struggled to hit home. Not that it was all bad. Understated throughout, their style favoured their front man's vocals, who does have the makings of great voice if he sticks in his range. They were a band that is unfinished and incomplete, but still miles ahead of their contemporaries with their song writing ability, scope and maturity. Keep an eye on them.
This band sound so good on paper but leave me with a sense of lacking live. They're a bit loose when tight would suit them better: when there are only two of you, you have to be slick and convincing to pull it off. There are some fat grungy grooves that work well but overall, these old romantics are searching in vain for a distinctive sound, something that even playing guitar on top of the bar won't help them find.
Not long ago, The Mouse Outfit had a complete face lift and changed their musical direction. Nice as the previous stuff was, be grateful that they did, as their slick Jazzmatazz meets Jurassic 5 with a fine Northern twist is powerful stuff. Tonight, they're on fire, with horns and guitars underpinning the dual MC assault up front perfectly. Great stuff.
With careful dynamism and light arrangements, it's a delight to hear songs with so much breathing space in them from this accomplished quintet. Triangle, tea-towel-cloaked snare and cello blend without pretention, framing the soulful voice of the titular Mr Saunders. These are dreamy 'beach at dawn' songs, filling your mind with places where the sky is blue and the horizon holds hope. A very pleasant experience and a warm smile as a souvenir.
Taking to the stage with a tight collection of well thought out pop-rock numbers that is their stock, The Chase belted out a set that was short, sweet and straight to the point. Rhythm dominated throughout, each song being a straightforward musical jaunt from A to B, but with enough care to ensure we had fun along the way. They had catchy choruses with clever vocal harmonies, deliriously frenetic guitar solos when called for, and infectious riffs that don't go away. The Chase were a demonstration of how things can go right at fringe gigs.
- Moho Live, 8.50pm (CL)
Launching themselves into a staggeringly energetic set from behind a bank of gizmos that would have pleased a junior Orbital, Shmoo mixed mammoth dance, raw garage band and full-blown pop brilliantly. Even the inclusion of a vocoder didn't ruin proceedings, as the Newport brothers doled out a lesson in commitment, fervour and fun for everyone present.
Wind up sirens and garbled megaphone vocals lock hands with sailor hats and sirens. Akin to the Mighty Boosh, the song 'We Are Sailors' is smothered in cheese with irony topping. This band have an easy going, Banana Splits vibe, all shaggy psychedelia with a twist of electronica. Romantic Divine Comedy starchy ballads and a self indulgence that you can't hold against them. Kitsch. Xylophone. Serious or not, I can't decide, but intriguing indeed.
The definite surprise of the evening, The Joint were three guys, three instruments, no fuss. They absolutely exploded into their opening number catching all and sundry off guard and showcasing the shortage of four armed drummers in the current climate. Top tunes, all punchy, dominating and powerful with just the smallest hint of the sinister to keep us on edge and guessing. Extra kudos has to be given for them holding us in their thrall despite snapping a string and being unable to replace it one song in; if he hadn't have told us, we wouldn't have noticed as this was truly inspired axe work.
The Real Dolls might just be the ultimate party band. Bristling with hyperactivity and led by the dual assault of rap anti-hero Rod Hotly and the non-stop mayhem machine that is Yoshi, they dished out their unique Pronk sound in spades. As guest vocalist Veba described it, their set was "splendiferous", which, given that they danced both the robot and the running man and pushed out energetic tune after energetic tune, might well be an understatement.
Last year, The Jessie Rose Trip were one of the hits of the official showcase at In The City. Almost unbelievably, this year they are even better. There's been a personnel change in the band, things have been sharpened and tightened, and Jessie herself has become the show-woman she always looked like being. Closing the BBC Introducing stage, the band were slick yet raw, clean yet dirty, and absolutely thrilling. As a finale to three days of finery, they were spot on.
Follow the links in the band names above to listen to them online at their websites.