The Deaf Institute, tucked away down a side street in Manchester, is well known for the eclectic range of music it hosts, from new, start-up bands, to well-established, successful musicians. Stepping inside, the wooden staircase leading to the dimly lit music hall was a world away from the crowded streets of the city. Red velvet curtains framed the stage, whilst the patterned wallpaper was complimentary rather than intrusive. The audience waited bathed in subtle purple light.

The first act, Nev Cottee, sang a set of heartfelt songs, encouraging a nostalgic feeling in the audience. Chris Hillman accompanied on slide and electric guitar, whilst Cottee played acoustic. His album, ‘Broken Flowers’, will be released in May. ‘Open Eyes’, the single of the album, is set for release in April – neither are to be missed. His songs are memories and feelings, about people, places, and times of life. This atmospheric music was relatable, and perhaps this is one of the reasons it was so successfully received. 

Jonathan Richards, the multi-instrumentalist, took to the stage next as part of Kreol Lovecall. The rest of the band is an arrangement of drum machine, keyboard and bass, all recorded onto a backing track – the benefit being that “the band don’t talk back”! Jonathan played electric guitar and sang. These are honest songs, shining light on social issues facing our culture, as a projector played a dizzying kaleidoscope of colour onto the wall behind him. Broken up by witty comments, his set was enjoyed by the audience, leaving them ready to hear him plays as part of the next line-up. 

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Following his highly successful album, ‘Garden Of Ashes’, Duke Garwood’s follow-up tour promised wonderful things, resulting in a sense of expectation hanging in the air. This supremely talented musician did not disappoint. The room went silent as they strolled on stage and began playing, pausing only long enough for applause between ‘Coldblooded’ and ‘Sonny Boogie’, the ethereal melodies floating out over the relaxed backing of guitar, bass and drums.

Continuing on through the album, he held the audience transfixed by the effortless vocals and his complete mastery of the guitar. The bass and electric guitars blended beautifully with the drums and vocals – there was no doubt that these natural musicians were completely at ease on stage and with each other, letting the music create a feeling of open space, of time, and of complete contentment. The times that Garwood took the stage on his own were no less moving – a perfect balance between the music filling the space yet leaving room to breathe was achieved in both ‘Sleep’ and ‘Sing to the Sky’. It is no wonder that Duke Garwood has enjoyed high praise from both this album and his previous one. 

For those seeking a night of moving music, this was the perfect event – Garwood’s longest sentence was “we’re not talking much tonight”, as they flowed seamlessly through the album with ‘Heat Us Down’, ‘Move on Softly’, and ‘Garden of Ashes’. ‘Sometimes’ was the perfect final song of the evening, a memory of his 2014 album ‘Heavy Love’. As Garwood and his band left the stage, the applause died down leaving a feeling of serenity and contemplation over a truly captivated audience.

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