Live Review: The Madding Crowd, Genevieve L Walsh, Sam Smith – The Miners Arts And Music, Manchester, UK, 26th November 2016

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The Madding Crowd, Genevieve L. Walsh, Sam Smith

The Miners Arts And Music, Manchester, UK - November 26th 2016

madding-crowd-miners-17-1The Miners Arts And Music is a small community venue, it lies in a corner of North Manchester that is rarely a destination for live music, but tonight The Madding Crowd are launching their latest EP, The 78th Bridge On The Rochdale Canal. They are accompanied by Sam Smith, the vocalist from The Parish Church Fire, who is playing a solo set, and Genevieve L. Walsh, who is delivering a set of spoken word, in addition to this there is a screening of a film made for tonight’s show. The music played prior to the live acts reflects the diverse line up on display, blues, sixties pop and eccentric psyche underpin the unpredictability of anything The Madding Crowd are involved in.

sam-smith-3The entrance to The Miners Arts And Music is lined with movie and music memorabilia including Sex Pistols, Joy Division and The Beatles, and movies such as Pulp Fiction, that sets the tone nicely, and seems to make this the perfect venue for tonight’s line up of acoustic, spoken word and the unique stylings of The Madding Crowd. The evening kicks off as Sam Smith takes the stage, following an introduction by the host of Salford City Radio‘s Punk Show, Stephen Doyle. In addition to playing tonight, Sam Smith is also the man responsible for the mix on The 78th Bridge On The Rochdale Canal.

sam-smith-1Sam Smith delivers a mix of material via acoustic guitar and keyboard, he showcases a set of songs that makes his new band, The Parish Church Fire, an intriguing prospect for 2017, his soulful material indicates that Manchester has another undiscovered songwriting talent. The songs veer between genres, he perfectly encapsulates heartland rock, rebel country and heartfelt protest songs, whilst he has the misfortune to share his name with a forgettable pop singer, the two could not be further apart, his material can be gentle and reflective, or vengeful and vitriolic, but always delivered with passion and authenticity.

sam-smith-2He delivers a set of his own material interspersed with a few well chosen covers, including what he described as “elephants in the room” that he is releasing tonight, this includes songs from the early days with Sam Smith And Company as well as solo material, songs that have inspired him and new material, that gets its first airing tonight. My personal highlight was the track Some Facts, which dates from the Heathens To Devils EP he record with Sam Smith And CompanySome Facts is a raging ode to escaping the conformity and restrictions of smalltown England. Based on tonight’s set Sam Smith and his band, The Parish Church Fire, are a band to watch in 2017.

genevieve-walsh-1After only the briefest of changeovers Genevieve L. Walsh takes to the stage, she is someone I haven’t previously encountered, something that I’m glad I have rectified. She is a spoken word artist who delivers her material with equal measures of wit and anger. She continues the tradition of alternative poets such as John Cooper Clarke and Joolz Denby, and her material is pitched perfectly between the style of these two artists. As she says in one of her poems, she is sharp “of wit and heel” and her material is delivered with a rapid fire style that carries the punk attitude, but the fact this is delivered accompanied only by her self conviction makes it all the more impressive.

genevieve-walsh-2She encapsulates the anger and energy of punk and this, combined with the strength of her material, keeps the crowd that has attended for The Madding Crowd enraptured. Genevieve L Walsh is as good a live act as I’ve seen this year, her set contains equal elements of irreverent humour, political anger, and social observation, all of which is delivered informally with her trademark style, on the basis of tonight’s performance I’ll be hoping to catch a longer set by Genevieve L. Walsh at some point in the near future.

madding-crowd-miners-17-2Prior to The Madding Crowd commencing their set we get a unique short film the band has made to accompany the launch of The 78th Bridge On The Rochdale Canal The film marries words and images that couple a lost element of the North West’s industrial past with a distinctly northern sensibility. As the film ends the screen rises to reveal the band ready to launch into their headline set. I’ve seen The Madding Crowd previously when they played a short set as part of a showcase at legendary Manchester venue, The Night And Day Café, but this is the first time I’ve had the chance to catch them performing a headline set on their own terms.

madding-crowd-miners-17-3From the off vocalist Ben Corry is in his element, delivering the lyrics in usual unrestrained style and channelling the spirit of Iggy Pop in his stage moves, his counterpart, brother and guitarist, Dominic Corry, covers every inch of the stage, contorting himself continually whilst delivering hard edged guitar riffs. The rhythm sectioned is more constrained, Claud Corry, bass, and Savan Patel, drums, anchor the sound and act as counterpoints to the more combustible duo from the quartet. As good as The Madding Crowd are in the studio, it is clear from the outset that they their natural home is in a live environment, and tonight they deliver a typically genre spanning set in fine style.

madding-crowd-miners-17-4Their set is characterised by a deliriously distorted sound that incorporates everything from punk to funk into their aural assault, from numbers that contain a distinctly sixties pop sensibility, through to hardcore energy and anger. Their latest EP encapsulates the range they demonstrate, and tonight they played pretty much everything from their back catalogue, from their earliest New York Dolls influenced songs through to their latest release, all of which demonstrate their ability to soak up influences and styles by osmosis. The Madding Crowd are a band that seem to live and write in the moment, as a result they are a mass of contradictions, for me it is this carpe diem attitude that gives them their unique style

madding-crowd-miners-17-5The Madding Crowd forge their own path and I can’t think of anyone else doing anything even remotely similar to what The Madding Crowd are producing. Tonight’s show was a testament to their self belief and DIY ethic, when you take into account the fine support from Sam Smith, and in particular the peerless contribution from spoken word artist Genevieve L. Walsh, then you have a reminder as to why you should go and seek out your local underground bands. Entrance to tonight’s show was less than the price of a pint, and for that you go three acts, each with their own individual appeal, it’s night’s like this remind you excatly why music matters.

madding-crowd-miners-17-6The Madding Crowd are playing a free concert at Northern Live, Manchester on the 8th December 2016, prior to touring The 78th Bridge On The Rochdale Canal in the new year

The Punk Site review of The 78th Bridge On The Rochdale Canal can be found here

The 78th Bridge On The Rochdale Canal can be purchased here

madding-crowd-miners-17-7Genevieve L. Walsh‘s website can be found here

The Parish Church Fire‘s Facebook page can be found here

Photography is by Dean Unsworth, his Instagram account is located here,

You can click on any of Dean’s photos to view a slide show of the images