Review By Michael Oates
You’ll have to forgive me I haven't done this reviewing lark for a long time.
I moved from the big smoke in 1990 to Manchester. My reasons were mostly financial as I'd just stopped writing for a national Music Magazine for whom I'd written for under a pseudonym and was falling out of love with the whole music industry. When I arrived in Manchester I thought I'd arrive into a sea of madness I mean, was this not ‘Madchester’ the home of looped baggy beats and wide boy teens?
The latter was true and still is but the music scene as I found it wasn’t quite what I'd been led to think it was. Everyone was really nice and I mean total strangers coming up to me at gigs saying “Hi how are you? ..”.
This just didn’t happen that often in Camden.
So why am I telling you all this I hear you ask?
Well I’ll tell you. I visited a night spot called The Hacienda. THIS WAS THE PLACE. It was the place I'd been wanting to see spring up in London but it never did. Now by the time I got there the glory days were all but over but there was still a great buzz about the place.
A few years in Manchester and I'd stopped going to that club and got into my new media role as Artist Liaison for a rather large international record label and so my Job often took me away from Manchester and The Hacienda.
On one of my rare weekends home (this would be mid 90s) I went back to The Hacienda and saw a band that I could not describe to you even now.
First I heard film excerpts then some Derek & Clive and all of this going as four very ordinary looking blokes walked to their instruments. The crowed moved closer to the stage. The drummer perched on his stool and then … all hell broke loose. Amps were being flung right left and centre. The Singer sometimes sang a song, sometimes just danced around like a crazed maniac with the widest eyes I've ever seen I can still recall his insane looking face screaming into the microphone …
“If its in tune its all wrong and if it’s all wrong its alright by me”
I never forgot that night and soon after I believe this group, Gabrielles Wish were signed by one of the owners of the Hacienda one Mr Robert Gretton.
I moved away from Manchester but still that night, the sounds, were engrained in my mind, etched if you will almost against my will.
So I was delighted to find out the band still exist and even more delighted to learn that in the 20 years since they never stopped putting out first class music. Which brings me to the new single “Wandering The Streets”. It’s a far cry from the intensity and raw sound they had when I first heard them and for a single, maybe that’s no bad thing.
As a single it works great the hook is there instantly and the song does not out stay it's welcome.
The guitar harmonics are infectious although I can’t help but feel more in the way of lyrics could have enhanced the song but this is a minor quibble.
‘Wandering The Streets’ is a punchy melodic post punk romp all under 3 minutes. I loved it and if you enjoy any alternative bands like say, The Fall or The Damned then I think you’ll very much enjoy the work of one of Manchester’s best kept secrets and it’s about time that secret was known to the world. Its being released by Mancunian Record Label ‘Eromeda Records’ on the 16.12.13 via iTunes and if you spend a quid on anything that day, make it this single it’ll have been money wisely spent
Manchester Pride is to distribute £34,000 to local LGBT charities following its events staged in 2013 including the August Bank Holiday Big Weekend.
The amount, which includes 100% of direct donations from the ring-fenced Community Fund, is lower than in previous years. The charity described it as "disappointing" confirming that it has launched a plan to boost future fundraising.
A small decline in ticket sales and a move towards buying one-day rather than full four-day wristbands were the main reasons behind the reduced fundraising.
To counter this trend, which began in 2012, the Board began a programme of measures including reducing costs that delivered savings of over £60,000 in the delivery of Big Weekend event compared to 2011. Vicken Couligian, Chair of Manchester Pride said
As a charity, we exist to campaign for, promote and celebrate LGBT life.
Our Parade, Pride Fringe arts festival and the Big Weekend successfully achieve this but over the last two years, fundraising levels have been disappointing.
That's why we are taking action to boost fundraising next year and beyond. We have a clear plan in place that will provide a bright future for the festival.
Preparations for the 2014 festival have already started. It will take place on August bank holiday in Manchester’s Gay Village.
The three part plan to boost fundraising focuses on:
- Reviewing the existing events to reduce costs significantly without compromising the quality of our events
- Accelerating the introduction of additional fundraising activity throughout the year
- Consulting with all our stakeholders, from the community to the City Council to Village businesses to shape Manchester Pride’s future direction together.
Work has already started and a full financial review is being carried out by one of Manchester Pride’s new trustees with relevant, specialist skills.
Manchester Pride has also launched Supersonic: Mach 2, a fundraising event that will be held underneath the wings of Concorde at Manchester Airport on Friday 11th April.
Other new events are also planned during 2014. The charity has also confirmed that it will hold listening groups from January across a variety of locations including in the City Centre.
It will also launch an online survey that will be promoted when the Supersonic: Mach 2 fundraiser tickets go on sale on 22 November.
MANCHESTER PRIDE HIT BY PROTEST OVER LACK OF FUNDRAISING
Press release by Geoff Stafford
Protest will hit the city centre offices of Manchester Pride at 12:15 this Monday lunchtime (November 11).
Pride was expected to announce this year's charity figure last Friday, but didn't. It is rumoured to be below £29,000, making it the lowest amount since 1990 when the August event was little more than a jumble sale on the cobbles on Canal Street.
38,000 tickets were sold this year, despite the recession. In 2012 the registered charity had income of £991,656 and announced £52,000 for good causes. But it has since emerged that only £36,100 of that was raised during the financial year and the publicised amount had been topped up out of reserves.
Now concerned members of the public, charity workers, gay village business owners and their staff will stage a protest outside Pride HQ.
Their offices are in the Manchester One building on the corner of Portland Street and Sackville Street. The peaceful action starts at
12:15 and later will move to outside the town hall.
Manchester City Council gave Pride just £11,796 in 2012 and despite boasting that the Big Weekend brings in as much as £22 million of business across the city. In comparison, a recent concert by Alicia Keys received Council funding of £425,000.
Manager of VIA on Canal Street Tony Cooper is also a former Deputy chair of the Village Business Association (VBA). In a public statement this week he writes that he will "remove all my support for Manchester Pride until I see appointments on the board that represent business and the community."
"I have had dialogue with Manchester Pride for several weeks and I have not seen any change in the way they deal with issues and I find myself believing that they do not want to engage with the community at large and certainly not the businesses who support them to the tune of £40-60k every year."
Geoff Stafford the co-founder of the Facebook campaign group "Facts About Manchester Pride" points out that the planned protest isn't tied to any particular group. "This feels like a turning point," he says.
"We've been campaigning for two-and-a-half years, but now Pride has upset a lot of the LGBT community right across the board. From low-paid people who feel excluded by high ticket prices, to gay business owners and charity workers. In the current climate smaller charities in particular depend on this funding.
"We expect many of those people will join in the protest. Personally I think the board of trustees should resign."
This summer, village workers were told they would be prevented from going into the main arena during Pride. Performer Penny Crayon is one who was turned away by security when the area was half empty and caught the moment on video. This caused discontent amongst bar staff who work long hours and try to grab a brief look at the acts during their breaks.
And in another development after a decade of the gay village being fenced off, City Council officials have confirmed in writing that the public has always had a legal right to walk through the streets during Manchester Pride whether they buy a ticket or not.
Businesswoman Julia Grant was a key figure behind the successful and free-to-enter GayFest in both 2000 and 2001. Amounts of £105,716.77 and
£87,666.63 were raised and published accounts show that 75% of this was distributed to the Lesbian and Gay Foundation, BodyPositive NorthWest and George House Trust. The remainder going to smaller charities.
Julia says simply "Manchester Pride and the lack of investment in the village has ripped the heart out of the LGBT community."
The August Bank Holiday event started at the end of the 1980s to produce funds for HIV and AIDS causes. The Village Charity was formed in 1991 and raised £29,291 that year. The figure from the weekend was
£40,000 in 1994 which is equivalent to £64,000 today.
SupaJamma 'Hope And Pray' Single Review
By Andrew Barclay
SupaJamma features the exceptional vocal talents of one Mr Martin 'Sugar' Merchant' whom many will recall fronted the excellent 'Audioweb' who were criminally underrated.
This single, 'Hope And Pray' is a welcome one and it's very much a song of the moment. Economic, social and political unrest abounds and Sugar's lyrics spare no blushes in his indignation of the status quo.
The track starts off with a deep bass line and surges into a dirty funky almost dub sounding mixture of genres and it works well.
Sugars voice is one of the best in not only the UK music scene, but on the world stage, and this band, SupaJamma are easily able enough to transcend the success of Audioweb because without a shadow of a doubt, 'Hope And Pray' delivers on all fronts.
Sugar recently announced that he was retiring from vocal duties to concentrate on his DJing, and without wanting to sound disrespectful, WHY ON EARTH???
SupaJamma are a great band and Sugar is a great frontman and vocalist and whilst im sure his DJ skills match the very best, his vocals are truly something special and should he actually give up on making brilliant music like 'Hope And Pray', then the world of music will miss him dearly.
The single is out on 11.11.13 from iTunes here's the link
Cool Manchester - Hello Robert. Your new band 'Opium Kitchen' are now signed to theManchester label Eromeda Records. What's different about this new band sound wise for 'Scars'?
Robert King - None of the other Scars are in the band.
Cool Manchester - You reformed Scars in 2010 and we were told there was talk of a new album with them. That didn't happen but the gig was eagerly well received, did that make you consider doing more with Scars?
Robert King - It did. We also did a Marc Riley session which went very well. After that we swapped some musical ideas for possible new songs with the possibility of recording and performing them live.
Cool Manchester - Paul Research said online on YouTube that he couldn't work with you because you were unreliable, but when we spoke to Eromeda Records they say the new music is coming thick and fast, so was it just a case of a clash of ideals musically with Paul?
Robert King - No. Paul requested that certain topics I might write about should be left aside for new Scars material. So, I reminded him by means of a one word message that such an eventuality was not possible. As for reliability, I missed a rehearsal the day before the reunion gig because I had a bit of a cold and sore throat, and therefore concluded that a day in bed would not risk cancelling the show. Opium Kitchen are currently choosing from 30-35 demoed songs for the first album.
Cool Manchester - The debut single 'We Will Be' is expected to be released soon, what can fans expect from this new single and will there be an album to follow?
Robert King - It is an up-tempo number. A love-song actually. Guitar, bass and drums, with some keyboards and saxophone. We are, as I said, choosing the songs for our first album, to be called Hommagination. Hopefully ready for release around summer of 2014.
Cool Manchester - Gig wise do Opium Kitchen have any plans in the near future?
Robert King – Yes. We are playing at The Star and Shadow Cinema inNewcastle with Subway Sect on Nov 29, perhaps a support with The Fall at the beginning of December also. But we also plan to play gigs on our own and also with Gabrielle's Wish and Dub Sex.
Cool Manchester - Mark E Smith once described Scars as his favorite band because in his words ''they are everything The Fall are not", he's not known for his complementary side, do you get on well with him?
Robert King - Mark and various members of the Fall, such as Marc Riley, Martin Bramah, for example, have never been anything but extremely nice to myself and the other members of the Scars. We were and still are enjoyers of their music also. Favourite band is a category i would posit in that respect.
Cool Manchester - We were shown some photos for the new Opium Kitchen music video and it's all looks suitably moody, can you tell us anything about the video?
Robert King - I have not seen it, but we play poker and I win. That is all I know about it. Also, i think you might see the tile mural of Mark Smith that is in the window of Butterfly studios in it also. So... A nod to Mark.
Cool Manchester - Your label mates with some quite well known and respected artists such as Honey Bane, AAAK etc. Was it this that drew you to Eromeda Records and if not, what made you choose to work with them instead of a larger label like say, Domino Records?
Robert King - Our manager Kelvin Knight (ex Delta 5) of NMB management attracted their attention with some demos. We never knew who was on the label until after we signed. We were impressed by the enthusiasm and straight-forwardness of Andy Barclay from Eromeda quite simply.
Cool Manchester - Will there be any Scars music in the Opium Kitchen set lists? Akin to when Ian Brown started to play Stone Roses tracks before he reformed his band?
Robert King - No. Why should there be?
Cool Manchester - What are your interests outside of music Robert?
Robert King - Ancient languages, literature, art. My lady, our family and my son's band The Merrylees.
Cool Manchester - Robert thank you for chatting with us, we wish you every success with all your future projects.
Robert King - Et Tu Cool Manchester.
Opium Kitchen can be found online at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Opium-Kitchen/191415960897691?fref=ts