Pete, The Pirates and the need for progression in Manchester

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Thursday, May 14th, 2009

The Manyanas, Disco Nasties, Bye Bye Johnny and Pete & The Pirates Puma Manchester at Moho Live at Moho Bar, Manchester

The opening band - and third place in whatever competition results in supporting Pete & The Pirates - start off with the tempo all over the place but soon settle down into a line of Arctic Monkeys with the obvious local dash of Oasis. “At least my songs mean the world to me” is a nice manifesto and in included in an introduction song that ends by name checking The Manyanas.

They enjoy their melodies and the singer’s tambourine is more than an ornament. They thank Puma for putting on the night - an attitude like that will take them far in the world of play-the-game indie as will their style and tendency to favour audience interaction.

They drop and raise tempo and roar through a feisty set of urban tunes about staying out and being the small side of twenty-five drifting into The Libertines once or twice but not enough to be unforgivable. Perhaps it shows a long gestation of the work that they reference the last eight year and the singer has snapped on Ian Brown's hair.

They even throw in a 'Woo' for good measure and seem interested in the audience.

They finish the set with some more experimental pop and a nod to The Beatles on Laundry. All of which makes a pleasing mix and certainly a refreshing cocktail if not the most original.

Disco Nasties follow once they have found Freddy who is missing putting his Pumas on we are told. Some local DJ enters the fray and talks about Puma some more. Corporate sponsorship is better the less overt it is. Someone should tell the Brand Agency behind tonight this.

Likewise someone should tell Disco Nasties too that not everything on every 80s Now albums is worth pilfering as they start off in falsetto and thumped bass. They stop the flow for technical difficulties but decide they can continue anyway so who knows if the feedback that drenched a song that sounded like Good Shoes covering The Jam’s Eton Rifles - and that need not be a bad thing - was intentional.

They drift into something more formulaic which is dominated by The Cure vocals but are well received by swelling audience.

Disco Nasties ran up to Bye Bye Johnny who take the stage next with the DJ endorsement of being the best new band from the City that gave us The Stone Roses, The Happy Mondays and Oasis. He assures us that one day Bye Bye Johnny will be headlining the MEN.

I'm always wary of the idea that bands should be appreciated because one day they might be big - sales are never an assurance of quality, a good band is a good band in a pub or a stadium - and Johnny fail to live up to that hype.

They are a tight five piece though who play fast pop that sits well alongside and is the equal to a lot of bands one would hear on daytime Radio One but they have none of the innovation of those bands they were name checked against in introduction.

There is not the lyrical excellence of The Smiths This Charming Man or Oasis Live Forever or the fusion of The Happy Mondays or the Stone Roses early work.

What they do have - in common with the previous two acts - is Ska influence played at breakneck speeds. It is exciting stuff: entertaining and listenable but perhaps not memorable. That said a rather curious Pato Banton style cover of the cover of Baby Come Back is not fading my memory any time soon.

So not bad but nothing original which is what I would have thought of Pete & The Pirates before arriving tonight.

P&tP apologise for being from Reading – this is the North after all - but instantly they seem a cut above what has gone before. Tones match more smoothly and vocal modulation is more subtle.

They build a song well and stay close to a pop ethic that lays something near Adam and the Ants and the more throbbing pop of Blondie. Think Union City Blues done by suburban boys and you are not far wrong.

They are a meaty set with three guitars, two singers, keyboard and drums and the work the sound well creating that rarest of think - am unheard riff - or at least an innovative one.

They are working through some new tracks tonight as they build back after the initial thrust of 2007 new band status wore off. As a band they are diligent which does not sound like high praise but is.

There is a curious variety to their tunes which bodes well and ties into an idea that in the world of landfill indie the better acts will be defined by what they do after they get big. Pete and the Pirates have not written their 505 yet but they are trying and that attempt - that willingness to advance the formula - is admirable.

Short and sweet they test out new tracks well and take a few from the first album. Little Death and She Doesn't Belong To Me is a stand out but the hope - and the lesson to the three bands that proceeded them - is in the progression.

Written By Michael Wood Thursday, May 14th, 2009

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One Response to “Pete, The Pirates and the need for progression in Manchester”

  1. Ria Wood Says:

    I found it interesting that the band we liked best out of the three support acts (The Manyanas) was the one ranked least from the “competition”. Perhaps it was a bit of an our “fresh ears” phenomenon. However they were certainly more engaging than the 2 acts that followed even though their frequent name checking and inquisition of the audience as to whether they were having a good time was starting to grate. Nerves on their behalf, perhaps?

    Also interesting that out of the 100 bands (so we were told) sifted through from the Manchester area to play, these 3 acts where the cream. No idea who was on the selection panel and what criteria were used though. This is not to say that the 3 bands were awful – quite the contrary – all were very “tight”, polished, had full sets lists, etc. Indeed to the point where they seem to make equivalent Leeds fayre appear relatively amateur and roughly hewn. What surprised me was the homogeneity of the sound of all 3 bands. As mentioned in the main review, it was all the same relentless beat but perhaps dressed up with a bit of ska here, some punk there, a dash of indie, etc. Is this the sound of Manchester at the moment?

    As for Pete & The Pirates, well I’d been giving their Little Death album some hammering leading up to the gig and was thrilled with the assortment they played from it – really well realised in the flesh. Interesting stage dynamics have the frequent dual vocals and also that the lead singer (Thomas Sanders) would down guitar at times just to focus on the singing. Liberally interspersed with the older material were new tracks and they were a great listen. Ranges of style, rhythm, influences where exhibited and showed progression from their first album. Although nothing was said about when this new material will be out to buy, I can say that’s it’s already on my “album wishlist”.

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