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Northwest Issue 9 December 2013

MUSIC The Year in Albums: Fuck Buttons CHVRCHES Run the Jewels The National Boards of Canada Alasdair Roberts on Jason Molina FILM Top Ten of 2013 Rough Cut Festivals in the New Year THEATRE War Horse Panto and Beyond CLUBS The Cheat’s Guide to NYE Jimpster Gerd Janson FASHION Gift Guide BOOKS Darren Cullen The Longest Night TRAVEL Ugandan Arts Trust FOOD Stocking Fillers


Manchester Children’s Book Festival 26 June - 6 July 2014

Become a Graphic Designer A world class design education needn’t take forever… At Shillington it takes just 3 months full-time or 1 year part-time. The Shillington Graphic Design Course is well planned, continually adapted to the times and taught by passionate industry professionals in an inspirational studio environment. Starting with no prior experience our students graduate with an outstanding portfolio of work and an exceptional knowledge of design theory and industry software, making the transition to working in a real life studio as streamlined as possible. ENROL FOR 2014 AND BECOME A PART OF #THISCREATIVELIFE SHILLINGTONCOLLEGE.CO.UK

College of graphic design F shillington.fb T @shillington_ LONDON • MANCHESTER • NEW YORK SYDNEY • MELBOURNE • BRISBANE

Sunday 01 December


Wednesday 04 December


Saturday 25 January

Sunday 09 March

Monday 27 January

Friday 21 March

Wednesday 29 January

Sunday 23 March




Thursday 05 December

Thursday 06 February

Friday 06 December

Saturday 08 February

Friday 06 December

Saturday 08 February

Wednesday 04 December


Saturday 07 December




Saturday 21 December










P.17 Film Festivals

P.30 Fashion Gift Guide

P.35 A Foodie Christmas


Tuesday 25 March



Tuesday 08 April



Monday 10 February



Thursday 13 February



Monday 17 February


Friday 21 February




December 2013






Issue 09, December 2013 © Radge Media Ltd.

Thursday 25 September



Wednesday 26 February

Get in touch: E: T: 0161 831 9590 P: The Skinny, Second Floor, Swan Buildings, 20 Swan Street, Manchester, M4 5JW The Skinny is distributing 18,505 copies across Liverpool and Manchester, a wide range of advertising packages and affordable ways to promote your business are available. Get in touch to find out more.

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Editorial Northwest Editor Film & Deputy Editor Events Editor Music Editor Books Editor Clubs Editor Comedy Editor Deviance Editor Fashion Editor Food Editor Travel Editor Staff Writer Production Production Manager Designer Sub Editor Sales/Accounts Northwest Sales & Marketing Manager Sales Executive

Lauren Strain Jamie Dunn Laura Howarth Dave Kerr Ryan Rushton Daniel Jones John Stansfield Ana Hine Alexandra Fiddes Jamie Faulkner Paul Mitchell Bram E. Gieben Amy Minto Michael Mercer-Brown Thom Isom Kristian Doyle

Caroline Harleaux Issy Patience Rob Hannible

Lead Designer

Maeve Redmond

Company PA

Kyla Hall

Editor-in-Chief Sales Director Publisher

Rosamund West Lara Moloney Sophie Kyle

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ts .c alt-ticke THE SKINNY_126X314_December.indd 1

P.19 War Horse / 0


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The Skinny Ad Quarter Page November 2013_Layout 1 26/11/2013 16:38 Page 1


Up Front 06

Opinion: Shot of the Month; Skinny on Tour is flying; Cliff Martinez Hero Worships Captain Beefheart; Stop the Presses’ last minute news; Balls has some hellishly accurate festive horoscopes; and the first of our monthly comic strips comes from Iain Laurie.



Heads Up: A calendar of daily recom-

08 mended events to take you through the holidays to the end of the year.


Albums of the Year: Our music squad’s entirely democratic countdown of the year’s best records – including interviews with Fuck Buttons, Factory Floor, Run The Jewels, Steve Mason and more. You didn't ask for it, you may not even have wanted it, but it would be remiss of us not to provide it anyway. Our crack team of movie reviewers reveal their films of the year.


We look at three film festivals lighting up early 2014.


‘Panto is terrible.’ ‘Oh no it isn’t.’ A guide to alternative Christmas theatre.


As theatrical juggernaut War Horse comes to Salford, we look at how its equine puppetry has changed perceptions of the artform.


Our Film editor took a trip to an abandoned mine in the Lake District to speak to artist Jamie Shovlin about his debut feature Rough Cut.


No stranger to this paper’s pages, artist Darren Cullen has created a new work, a darkly satirical comic entitled Join the Army. He tells us why British army recruitment must be scrutinised.


Competitions: Win Sunday lunch for the next year, plus tickets and hotel accommodation for Glasgow Film Festival up for grabs.


Food and Drink: What to get that finicky foodie in your life this Christmas, and, as the month of excess begins, our Food editor considers the amount of food that goes to waste in the UK.

Review 39

Music: The return of Death Grips, plus we look back at November’s gigs from Julia Holter, Baths, and Daughn Gibson.


Alasdair Roberts and Aidan Moffat pay tribute to the life and legacy of the late Jason Molina upon the tenth anniversary of Songs: Ohia's final LP, The Magnolia Electric Co.

The Nativity, as remembered by

Running Back boss Gerd Janson chats multi-tasking and Thomas Pynchon ahead of his date at The Warehouse Project.

Lifestyle 28

Showcase: An extended collection of festive greetings cards created specially for you by some of our favourite artists.

Northwest and Scotland.

December 2013

Box Office 0151 709 3789


Live Performances & DJ Sets:

The Bay Horse 35-37 Thomas Street

Every Week Northern Quarter twitter@TheBayHorsePub




Clubs: Deep house icon Jamie Odell – aka Jimpster – runs through his current favourite spins, plus the clubbing highlights over this festive season.


Film & DVD: Robert Redford stars in our movie of the month All Is Lost, plus there’s the new picture from Alexander Payne (Nebraska) and another bloody film about the Beat poets (Kill Your Darlings), plus a great month for DVDs, with Heaven’s Gate, Streets of Fire and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.


See in 2014 with DJs Nicks Picks and lots of dancing!! Free Entry from 9pm




Comedy: Jayne Edwards – “The Nation’s Beefheart” – spills her guts on her life as a stand-up.



Art: We get ideological with Art Turning Left at Tate Liverpool and Grayson Perry unveils his monumental tapestries at Manchester Art Gallery.


Books: We talk ghost stories with Emma Jane Unsworth and Richard Hirst and review four new releases.

Any bands wanting to play at Free Gig Friday contact Yvonne on

Free Gig Friday At The Bay Horse from 9pm








Listings: The cultural word on the street in Liverpool and Manchester.

35-37 Thomas Street, Northern Quarter, M4 1NA PHONE : 0161 661 1041


Competitions: Win a pair of tickets to Gigantic when the indie all-dayer comes to Manchester.

Any bands wanting to play at The Bay Horse contact Yvonne on

Fashion: A selection of stylish gift s

30 from an array of local designers in the

‘[Womack] was lifted out of obscurity by Damon Albarn for his last Gorillaz album in 2010, and promptly went about shredding the urban electro setting with three decades’ worth of pent up emotion… Singing as if his life depends on it. We are in the presence of mad, brilliant, soulful genius and there is no choice but to surrender.’ The Telegraph


Joseph gets punched in the balls.


Sunday 26 January 7.30pm Liverpool Philharmonic Hall £34.50, £39.50, £45.50

Kid Canaveral separate the crackers from the crap in our Christmas Dirty Dozen.

Avoid the annual end of year anti-climax with our cheat’s guide to New Year’s Eve.

26 Timecop in the guise of Fred Fletch.

Deviance: Burlesque star Sukki Singapora considers the perception of her performance art in Singapore and in the UK. Plus: communal spaces open on Christmas Eve, Day and Boxing Day.


Features 10

Travel: An insight into a unique project, the Ugandan Arts Trust, aiming to foster the emergence of a grassroots arts infrastructure in Kampala.



Every Monday two guests wine & dine for only £10 with the best classic indie & alternative tunes from Stuart Corr y (Manchester North FM 106.6)


Interested in playing? Contact Matt & Edwin at Facebook @openmic@thebayhorse

THURSDAY BASEMENT GIG 5TH Little Hero Music present Three Dimensional Tanx & Lies, All Lies


SUNDAYS SUNDAY SESSIONS 1ST With Edwin Miles, Pop Hysteria Victim Warrior Poet Josh Lisiuk, Sophie BenYousef, Andrew Morris & Clockwork Radio From 5pm

PHONOGRAPHY 8TH, 15TH, 22ND & 29TH Peter Jay, Steve Legatto & Rich Harris playing VINYL ONLY from 4pm





or The Skinny’s editors, November has been a month of grappling not with socially conscious facial hair but with Excel spreadsheets, as our teams of music and film writers have sat dutifully down to try to remember what on earth they listened to and saw this year in order to bring you their top albums and movies of 2013. You can delve into the results, lovingly collated by our Music ed, from page 10 – and as well as some surprises, it’s pleasing to see many of our cover stars from The Skinny Northwest’s first nine issues in the top 50 voted-for records, from Julia Holter and Daniel Avery to MONEY. And if, like me, our film squad’s top 10 has made you feel deeply inadequate (does it count if you’ve meant to go and see all of them but stayed in with a slice of Battenberg watching Educating Yorkshire instead?), our Film editor chases it up with a look at some great UK film festivals happening early 2014, so you can finally be the buff you know is in you somewhere, just biding its time. From foodie gift guides to a, um, ‘unique’ tale of gatecrashing the nativity as seen through the eyes of Fred Fletch – inhabiting Timecop (of course) – and a selection of alternative Christmas cards designed by our illustrators and Showcase artists, we’ve given Santa and the baby Jesus their fair shot in this issue, but it’d be hamfisted of us to just bang on about eating, drinking and making merry at a time of year that is as difficult for many as it is decadent for some. Music takes a moment to remember the life and work of Jason Molina, whose passing in March this year came as heartbreaking news to a community of musicians and fans around the world. In his work as Songs:Ohia, Magnolia Electric Co. and as a solo artist, Molina’s mastery of and influence on modern songwriting cannot be underestimated – he was, as friend and collaborator Alasdair Roberts says on page 42, “a gifted raconteur.” In Books, we interview intelligent agitator Darren Cullen about his inevitably controversial Join the Army, a bitingly satirical comic skewering the promotional flyers and other materials issued by the Armed Forces to promote joining up to the young and impressionable (p.23). Finally, in Food, our editor

nudges us towards maybe not chucking out all those rejected sprouts, and Deviance rounds up spaces open for members of the LGBTQ community who may not necessarily have a home to go to this Christmas Day – if you know of any other places open on the 25th, do add your suggestions to the article online. This month we also did a lot of blubbing at War Horse (read about the manipulative – in more ways than one – geniuses behind it on p.19), a lot of shuddering at the idea of there being a giant lactating worm concealed in a quarry somewhere in the Lake District (see our Film ed’s trip to the set of Jamie Shovlin’s feature for Cornerhouse Artist Film, Rough Cut, on p.20), and a lot of marvelling at the work of various superhumans (hear from Rocca Gutteridge, who is working to foster the development of a contemporary art scene in Uganda, p.32, and find out why producer Gerd Janson rather unfairly doesn’t consider himself a true musician, p.27). There’s also a whole host of stuff from our end and our sister paper that we weren’t able to fit into print (see Online Only on p.7), so why not go and procrastinate on our site on whatever new gadget you find yourself fondling on Christmas Day? Or y’know, you could just interact with your loved ones. From all at The Skinny – sincerely – a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. [Lauren Strain] This month's cover is by Katie Craven. Katie is an illustrator, comic artist, printmaker and street artist currently residing in Liverpool. She is inspired by everything around her – beautiful places, animals and people; the way in which they live and the choices they make. Her dream is to live and learn as much as she can, so that she can continue to tell the collective stories of people's lives within her work.

Aphidelity – due to be released on 20 January on aA Recordings – with a pre-Christmas bash, complete with appearance from HOWES, and DJ sets from Softpriest and Young Will. Eagle Inn, Salford, 21 Dec, 8pm, £5.

The THRESHOLD FESTIVAL OF MUSIC & ARTS – taking place between 28-30 March in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle – is now accepting submissions from visual artists. The theme for 2014 is ‘Retrofuturism’; leaving plenty of wiggle-room for experimentation. Visit www.thresholdfestival. for more information.

The Critter Shed

Take a journey to the bottom of the sea – and the depths of the imagination – as The Critter Shed return with their latest collaborative exhibition of screen prints, inviting 32 artists from across the globe to submit their interpretation of CREATURES OF THE DEEP. Catch the launch night and exhibition at The Zanzibar Club, Liverpool, 8 Dec, 7pm, Free. Mancunian krautrock trio PLANK! mark the launch of their 7” single from upcoming album

Manchester’s festival of new ideas, FUTUREEVERYTHING returns for its 19th year, inviting innovators from across the board to engage with and discuss everything from art and design to music and performance. Taking place between 27 March-1 April in venues across the city, the theme for 2014 proceedings will be ‘Tools for Unknown Futures’. Earlybird passes for the conference are now available for £75 from If you’re on the hunt for original and affordable gifts this Christmas, look no further than the YUCK POP UP GALLERY, pitching up at the Manchester Craft and Design Centre between 6-9 December from 10am-5pm, offering limited edition screen prints, risographs and giclees from a mix of local and international designers. Aiming to raise awareness of the importance of feminist values in the fight to end violence against women, 16 DAYS OF STREET ART ACTION will see artists from across the North create 16 pieces of street art to illustrate local women’s perspectives on the subject. Running from 25 November and ending on 10 December. (International Human Rights Day), the artworks will crop up in secret locations around Manchester. Watch their progress on their Facebook page: www.facebook. com/16daysofstreetartaction. And finally, CONGRATULATIONS TO KEH NG, winner of the Title Art Prize 2013, and to runners up, Anna Mortensen, Tess Gray, and People’s Choice winner, Bella Leonard. GET THE SKINNY DELIVERED direct to your door so you never miss an issue. Subscriptions start from £7.99. Go to to find out more.

The Skinny on Tour Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a Skinny reader flying over a beautiful city. But which one? Here’s a Christmas clue: it plays host to the biggest New Year’s Eve party in the world.

Shot of the Month Julia Holter at The Deaf Institute, Wed 13 Nov, by Nick Bojdo



Talking of Christmas, our lovely friends at Canongate have got into the festive spirit and are giving away not one, not two, but three books to the winner. Up for grabs are To the Letter by Simon Garfield, The Song of King Gesar (Myths)

by Alai and The Complete Peanuts 1975-1976 by the brilliant Charles Schultz. For your chance of winning, just head along to about/competitions and tell us where you think this excitable young man seems to be flying over. Competition closes midnight Sun 5 Jan. Winners will be notified via email within two working days of closing and will be required to respond within one week or the prize will be offered to another entrant. Full T&Cs can be found at


Hero Worship: Cliff Martinez on Captain Beefheart


Soundtrack composer (Drive, Only God Forgives, Sex, Lies and Videotape) and former drummer for Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Dickies, Cliff Martinez tells us of his lifelong love for Captain Beefheart, and what it was like to work with him

ARIES With your guts heaving you scour the streets this Christmas for somewhere to use the loo only to be told there is “no room at the inn� time after time. Desperately you knock once more, and miraculously a kindly landlord explains that although the toilets are for customers only, you’re welcome to take a dump out back, “in the manger.�

with Mystic Mark

TAURUS You’re amazed to find your banging 400-strong Christmas parties are paradoxically categorised as ‘anti-social’ by the police.

Cliff Martinez


on Glen Vliet, better known as Captain Beefheart, has been my musical idol since I was 13 or 14, and remains so to this day. Usually, your musical heroes fade as your tastes change, but his music is still a big inspiration to me. I’d like to think that in some way he has had a powerful influence on my music. In a nutshell, he invented his own unique vocabulary for the music he made. The first thing that sucked me in was this completely new language for the drums. John ‘Drumbo’ French played the drums like nobody else. I don’t even know where it came from, that style. I’ve talked to him, and he mentioned his own influences – Sandy Nelson, Ginger Baker, and some other guys – but it just didn’t sound like anybody I’d ever heard before. It sounded like a completely fresh take on an instrument that millions of people play, and that millions of people have recorded – somehow he found something completely and totally new and different. A different way of thinking about it and approaching it. It was the same for the bass, same for the guitars and the other instruments. It’s the same for Beefheart’s composition – I don’t think there’s anything like it. You can’t even describe his music without using the word ‘Beefheart.’ To this day, that’s what I want to be when I grow up. Working with Beefheart, he was really demanding – it was very hard to keep up. You had to have a tape recorder running at all times, because a lot of the things he wanted to capture would be spontaneous, improvised things that he would not be able to repeat. That might be a vocal performance, or he might sit down and get you to play the drums, giving you directions like ‘Give me that thing that’s meat on a plate

GEMINI  A silver lining to your teenage daughter’s pregnancy is that she’s a shoo-in for Mary at the school play.

CANCER This year, after Obama is controverwith red asparagus dangling through the teacup,’ sially moved to Santa’s naughty list, the or ‘You know! Giant blue babies levitating over US Military begin drone strikes in Lapland. The mountaintops.’ And you were on your own! So it toll on the elf population is horrific, with entire was really, really hard work, but it was my Gary families obliterated on a daily basis. Santa Claus Cooper, High Noon moment. I had a front row releases a video saying that he will not stand for seat to experience his process. I don’t think there such attacks but the strikes continue, blowing will ever be another chance like that. up elves even as they tend to the wounded. On There was some punk spirit in his approach. Christmas Eve, a solemn Santa announces that He wanted that ferocity. Most people who do enough is enough and rides a sleigh loaded with Dada or avant garde music approach it from a high-explosives directly into the White House. cerebral point of view – he approached it with a very primal, Neanderthal sensibility. Everything LEO  There’s more than one way to skin was spontaneous, never premeditated. He wanted that fury. He wanted you to play every note like a cat, but there’s really only about it was the last note you would ever play. That was half a dozen ways to fuck one. very punk rock. When we were recording Ice Cream for Crow, VIRGO  In an attempt to improve efficiency you his last album, one of the things in my drum set was a fire alarm. It was this really dense metal undergo a surgical procedure to turn thing that you had to hit really hard to get any sound out of. He kept telling me to hit it harder and harder. I already had the biggest drumsticks made – I had 3S drumsticks, which are like parade drumsticks; they’re like baseball bats. So Eyes to the website I’ve got the biggest drumsticks possible, I’m hitting this thing as hard as I can, and he says, ‘Hit it harder.’ I hit the alarm so hard that the drumstick shattered and hit me just below the eye. It broke Broken Social Scenester Brendan Canning joins the skin, and my eye started bleeding. Beefheart us for a chill-out session; ex-Wild Flag and Sleater said ‘Stop the tape! Stop the tape! My music’s not Kinney drummer Janet Weiss discusses her musical legacy ahead of playing with Quasi on worth an eye.’ That was the level of intensity he their UK tour (The Deaf Institute, Manchester, 8 demanded, and that’s also what appealed to me Dec), and Cliff Martinez looks back on more than about punk rock. Whatever it is you’re going to 20 years of soundtracking: do, you have to really mean it.

LIBRA It turns out mistletoe is a parasitic plant that survives by penetrating and then sucking the life out of a host tree, making it the perfect symbol for a chance romantic encounter with you.

SCORPIO You’re a bit short of money this Christmas and instead of getting a proper turkey from Iceland, you decide to have Bernard Matthews instead. It takes all night to dig him up and drag him back home. To make matters worse, once you’ve stuffed and got him in the oven the putrid green and black juices never seem to run clear.

SAGITTARIUS It’s probably better if you don’t know.

CAPRICORN Your local church’s nativity play focuses heavily on the Virgin Mary’s miraculous 22-hour labour. Soaked in sweat and blood, she screams at the top of her lungs and gnaws on Joseph’s hand. When the Three Wise Men show up she barks at them to “get to fuck!� before sobbing into the straw and quietly whimpering that there is no God.

AQUARIUS You receive a Christmas Card from Cash Converters saying they’re looking forward to seeing you again this Boxing Day with all your children’s gifts in tow.

PISCES You enjoy spending time with your family.

Online Only

Only God Forgives is released on Blu-ray, DVD & Steelbook from 2 Dec. The soundtrack is out now on deluxe, limited edition coloured vinyl from Invada Records

December 2013

Photo: Ricardo DeAratanha

your eye sockets, mouth, nostrils and ears into one large facial orifice. This should really help speed things up at work.

Frankie Boyle lives up to his ‘difficult bastard’ reputation; our Comedy editor offers his guide to DVDs to stay in with instead of going out when

the comedy clubs are full of terrible people having terrible office parties; and we’ve an Esoteric Christmas Gift Guide: We’ve also got some slightly more normal Books and Film gift guides: books, Aaand finally there are tons more disturbing Christmas Cards in the online Showcase:



In what looks like our only non-Christmas related event, Hoboken trio Yo La Tengo tour their newest album, the four-Skinny wielding gem Fade, which finds them on suitably fine form, moving between pure doo-wop to fuzzedup alternative pop gems. Catch them in a live setting in the midst of their European tour. East Village Arts Club, Liverpool, 7.30pm, £16

Write Night

Yo La Tengo

Mon 9 Dec

Tue 10 Dec

The winter edition of the Waste Not Clothes Swap is the perfect opportunity to upgrade your wardrobe for free, all while mashing your face full of mince pies and mulled cider. You know the drill! Bring along up to 20 clean and undamaged items, trade them for tokens and then browse the racks for new threads. Also, bask in the warm and gooey feeling of knowing that proceeds go to Shelter. Soup Kitchen, Manchester, 12-6pm, £3

Aiming to fill the gap in the market for poetry nights aimed at people who think poetry is a bit naff, Salfordbased stand-up poetry troupe Evidently pitch up in a new home at the Eagle Inn to deliver some winter-spiced hijinks that will likely make you forget you hated poetry in high school. Eagle Inn, Salford, 7.30pm, £3

First seen when commissioned for the 2011 Manchester International Festival, That Day We Sang returns to the stage, bringing with it all the charm and nostalgia that Victoria Wood intended for her heart-felt love letter to Manchester. Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, until 18 Jan, from £10

Waste Not Clothes Swap

Photo: Shaun Bloodworth

Sun 8 Dec

Kieran King

That Day We Sang

Sat 14 Dec

Sun 15 Dec

Mon 16 Dec

Following up Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze with his EP it’s a big world out there (and i am scared), that Philadelphian chap Kurt Vile brings it heavy. With his accessible melodies cocked askew, he marries the introspection of the nocturnal stoner with the exploration of a troubadour frontiersman. Academy 2, Manchester, 7.30pm, £12.50

Slowing down to a glacial pace for the first time this month, MelloMello’s weekly Sunday Sit Down Session serves up a slice of silent film with a live soundtrack provided by the Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band, Liverpool’s raggle-taggle outfit made up of various members of Stealing Sheep, Barberos, Dead Hedge Trio and more. MelloMello, Liverpool, 7pm, £donation

In the style of a straight-to-DVD sequel, Christmas Sorority Massacre is an alternative Christmas theatre production, which follows the ditzy sorority girls and the hapless jocks of Backward Falls College caught in the midst of a Yuletide spree at the hands of a psychotic killer. Three Minute Theatre, Manchester, until 21 Dec, 7.30pm, £8.50

Kurt Vile

Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band

Sun 22 Dec

Mon 23 Dec

Also making merry are meandyou, who are throwing an end of year party to say ‘ta v much’ for all your dedicated move-busting over this past year, with members of the meandyou collective on hand to take care of the music well into the smaller hours. Soup Kitchen, Manchester, 10pm, £5

Anyone who struggles keeping houseplants alive will likely relate to this production of Little Shop of Horrors by Assembled Junk Productions, telling the story of a hapless florist as he raises a plant that feeds on human flesh and blood. It’s chilling stuff – and an ambitious undertaking. The King’s Arms, Salford, 2pm and 7.30pm, 3-22 Dec, £12 (£10)

With only a few windows still closed on your advent calendar, the realisation that you’ve yet to start your Christmas shopping will likely be about to send you into a frenzy – so thank feck the dot art Pop Up Art Shop is still open until 6pm today! You’re welcome. The Bluecoat, Liverpool, 11am-6pm, Free

Rachel Davey

Little Shop of Horrors

Photo: Assembled Junk Productions

Sat 21 Dec

Christmas Sorority Massacre

Marianthi Lainas: Another Place

Fri 27 Dec

Sat 28 Dec

Sun 29 Dec

Determined to see the year out with a bang, legendary Manchester clubnight Electric Chair return with their prophetically named End of Year Riot, a six hour dance-off with the likes of Horse Meat Disco, Chris Duckenfield and Il Bosco of Red Laser Disco taking care of the wax. Fac251, Manchester, 10pm, £23

To fill the dreadful gap between Turkey Day and Drink Yourself Silly Night, newly established clubnight Solar brings its four-week techno season to a close with a visit from Parisian DJ and producer Jef K, best known as head honcho over at Silver Network – he’ll be joined on the night by Data Transmission’s Jimmy Switch and Keiran Sharples of mute. Gorilla, Manchester, 11pm, £10

As 2014 comes to a close, we also bid farewell to the My Noir season at Cornerhouse. The finale flick is the 1957 film Sweet Smell of Success, directed by Alexander Mackendrick and starring Tony Curtis, who plays a young hustler enlisted by a newspaper columnist to help him ruin a jazz musician’s life. Cornerhouse, Manchester, 4pm, £5.50 (£4)

Horse Meat Disco



Sophie Freeman

Photo: Michael Lavine

For Ransack Theatre’s inaugural Write Night, they present a selection of three thought-provoking new theatre pieces: Boot Sale, about a young man trying to get closer to his father; Box, a tale of unpacking the past, and Enveloped in Velvet, an examination of apathy. And there’s free cake. Lass O’Gowrie, Manchester, until 5 Dec, 7pm, £3

Sweet Smell of Success


Photo: Marsha Shard

For December we present an alternative sort of advent calendar, with less chocolate and more GIFcentric art exhibitions (Different Domain), murderous Christmas theatre (Christmas Sorority Massacre) and nights filled with psych-tinged rock’n’roll (Psychmare Before Christmas)

Wed 4 Dec

Photo: Alexis Maryon


Compiled by: Laura Howarth

Photo: Gemma Burke

m -

Heads Up

Tue 3 Dec

Fri 6 Dec

Sat 7 Dec

DFA mainstays Factory Floor – recently seen loitering in a stairwell on the cover of our September issue – take their self-titled debut LP out for a jaunt across the UK. They’re set to play one of their signature immersive live sets, awash with analogue synths, live drums and intense disco downers. The Kazimier, Liverpool, 8pm, £10

Taking place across a variety of platforms and in various formats – including Google Hangouts and live performance in The Royal Standard’s gallery space – a new group exhibition, Different Domain, looks at the changing role of art in an online environment, and at its changing relationship with traditional gallery settings. The Royal Standard, Liverpool, until 18 Jan

For its latest exhibition, The Piers From Here, Open Eye Gallery presents a collection of photographs by Alvin Baltrop and Gordon Matta-Clark, displayed together for the first time in the UK and focusing on the Piers area of NYC during the mid 70s – an area of dilapidation mirrored by Liverpool's docklands. Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, until 9 Feb

Factory Floor

Photo: Georgia Kuhn

Thu 5 Dec

Sabrina Ratte: The Land Behind

Gordon Matta-Clark: Day's End (1875-1986)

Wed 11 Dec

Thu 12 Dec

Fri 13 Dec

A trio of trios line up for this Sailor Jerry and Rockfeedback-curated event, which cherrypicks three up-and-comers from all ends of the country – Brighton’s The Wytches take care of the dark, flowery psych, Glasgow’s Paws make with the lo-fi garage, and Manchester’s MiSTOA POLTSA bring their bristling, energetic sound. Soup Kitchen, Manchester, 7.30pm, £5

To help you get into the Christmas spirit(s), The Liquorists are teaming up with Manchester Confidential to spice up this screening of Elf – your pre-film snacks will be upgraded to a turkey and stuffing sammich, and your bucket of fizzy pop will be switched out with three Christmas crafted cocktails, including a mince pie mojito. The Dancehouse, Manchester, 7.30pm, £returns only

To spare any aspiring authors the anguish, we’ll leave out details of the contributors’ previous impressive accomplishments; but suffice to say that The Longest Night – an illustrated collection of ghost stories by Jenn Ashworth, Tom Fletcher, Richard Hirst, Alison Moore and Emma Jane Unsworth – is getting the launch it deserves. The Portico Library, Manchester, 6.30pm, £8 (£6)


The Longest Night

The Wytches

Wed 18 Dec

Thu 19 Dec

Fri 20 Dec

Continuing the theme of alternative Christmas theatre and with the aim of utterly eradicating naff panto, the Liverpool Actors Studio present a variation on the Little Red Riding Hood tale, casting Red as an A-grade student, her mum as a has-been club singer and Grandma as a QVC-loving new-age healer. Liverpool Actors Studio, 2pm and 7pm, 3-21 Dec, £12

No Christmas season would be complete without a screening of this early 80s classic, starring the cutest darned thing to ever don a Santa hat: Gizmo! Gremlins is equal parts comedy and cheesy horror, set against the snowy backdrop of Christmas as a town is overrun with rapidly multiplying creatures. FACT, Liverpool, 8.45pm, £7.60 (£6.10)

Following their midsummer soirée, Soup Kitchen and Grey Lantern get into the spirit with their Psychmare Before Christmas, a mind-expanding night of psychtinged rock’n’roll and face-melting visuals – with The Oscillation, Kult Country and Base Ventura set to form the bulk of your psychmares for the coming weeks. Soup Kitchen, Manchester, 10pm, £5

They describe themselves as ‘apple pie for the soul’, and you’ll likely be going back for second helpings of the Manchester-based, genre-bending six-piece Honeyfeet – known for blending Ethio-trad with a folk-hop vibe that’s punctuated by the lush vocals of Mancunian Ríoghnach Connolly. Studio 2, Liverpool, 7pm, Free


The Oscillation

Liverpool Actors Studio

Photo: Antonio Curcetti

Tue 17 Dec


Tue 24 Dec

Wed 25 Dec

Thu 26 Dec

Anyone not running around frantically and wrestling with housewives for the last bird in Tesco would do well to hotfoot it to the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall to enjoy a slice of Christmas cheer, as It’s a Wonderful Life is beamed up on their proper fancy screen. Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, 2.30pm, from £6

Today, you are legally required to eat, drink and be merry. That means piles of turkey, your mam’s best roasties and lashings of gravy, followed by lifethreatening quantities of pudding before settling down in front of the TV in a naff jumper to eat your weight in Quality Street. Merry Christmas from all of us at The Skinny, and please enjoy this cat in a tree.

The mother of all turkey (and nut roast) comedowns presents itself this year with a Boxing Day outing from Liverpool-based electronic and techno promoters mUmU, inviting Italian producer Joseph Capriati to headline the night, plus John Heckle, who appears on the back of his latest release, Desolate Figures. Venue tba – check – Liverpool, 10pm, £21

It's a Wonderful Life

Jayjay Robertson

John Heckle

Mon 30 Dec

Tue 31 Dec

Wed 1 Jan

Catch this showcase performance by The Russian State Ballet of Siberia, appearing alongside the Manchester Concert Orchestra as they provide the tunes for all the classics: Swan Lake, Giselle, The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty, to name but a few. Think of it as bite-sized ballet. Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 3pm, from £16

Between The Kazimier’s Speakeasy Style NYE, East Village Arts Club’s double whammy event with Chibuku and Abandon Silence, Jon Dasilva seeing in 2014 in unforgettable fashion at 2022NQ and Wet Play and Red Laser Disco’s eight hour joyride at Soup Kitchen, you’ll be spoiled for choice for places in which to say ‘so long’ to 2013 – flick to the back for more info in Listings.

Your New Year’s Day hangover will be spent in good company this year, as the Baltic Triangle-based workshopturned-music-haven hosts the Kitchen Street PopUp, with 12 hours of beats on the cards courtesy of Shelter's Henry Street Social, the Carpe Diem Collective and Allen&Hutch of Waxxx. Kitchen Street, Liverpool, 2pm, £8

Speakeasy NYE

Kitchen Street

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia

December 2013



The Top 50 Albums of The Year

The Class of 2013 10. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Big Dada)

11. John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts (Bella Union) 12. Jon Hopkins – Immunity (Domino) 13. Foals – Holy Fire (Warner Bros) 14. Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork (Matador)

Photo: Ross Gilmore


15. Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety (Software) 16. My Bloody Valentine – m b v (Pickpocket) 17. Daniel Avery – Drone Logic (Phantasy) 18. DARKSIDE – Psychic (Matador) 19. Yo La Tengo – Fade (Matador) 20. Low – The Invisible Way (Sub Pop) 21. David Bowie – The Next Day (ISO/Columbia) 22. Tim Hecker – Virgins (Kranky) 23. Savages – Silence Yourself (Beggars) 24. Laurel Halo – Chance of Rain (Hyperdub) 25. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away (Bad Seed Ltd)



through Big Dada on vinyl, with extra tracks, the band are also in the middle of a European tour when we speak. As for their further ambitions for the project, Mike says: “I would love to reach the levels of absurdity and wildness of punk music. I would love our show to become even more of a hedonistic expression of human nature. I wanna see people going apeshit wild.” El-P’s plans for 2014? “I’m thinking about getting into training hawks,” he deadpans. “I just think that would be a cool thing, y’know? Like, I’m a rapper, but I’m also a falconer.” [Bram E. Gieben]

9. Future of the Left – How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident (Prescriptions)


bviously I’m not a psychopath,” says Andrew Falkous, rebuffing imaginary claims to the contrary. “I’m quite reasonable; I get through a succession of day jobs of a temporary office-based nature. Within a left-leaning, what you might call indie rock paradigm” – a shudder traverses the phone line – “I think most of the opinions espoused would be quite neatly recognised by most people.” You have to take his point. How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident, Future of the Left’s game-upping fourth album, is quite eminently reasonable – reasonably indignant, reasonably righteous and, very reasonably, loud as fuck. But there’s more than pasty-faced moralism behind their pretty-noise riffs and sassy drums. Songs like How to Spot a Record Company and She Gets Passed Around at Parties are point-making but never preachy, the latter deconstructing a tragic marriage with far greater humour than its subjects deserve. It’s by taking such interest in the impulsive, idiotic and doomed of the species that – perhaps accidentally – Falco’s hellfire-backed tirades betray underlying compassion, rueing the big mistakes of tiny lives. That said, the intent is hardly philanthropic. Each song kvetches brilliantly and insistently, never relenting in content or volume until listeners believe outward social repulsion not just completely rational behaviour but the only possible behaviour. The four-piece’s slogan might be: we despair because we care. “Our music can be part of a balanced diet, you know?” Falkous reasons. “A lot of political bands of the punkier persuasion inspired a lot of people to sound exactly like those bands, to take on those political attitudes, almost as a weak facsimile of the original. What kind of fucking artist – and I use that term rather generously – is interested in that? I’m certainly not. I’ve never

Photo:Vito Andreoni

Photo: Kerri Aniello

26. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City (XL) 27. Atoms For Peace – AMOK (XL) 28. These New Puritans – Field of Reeds (Infectious) 29. Gold Panda – Half of Where You Live (Notown) 30. Danny Brown – Old (Fool's Gold) 31. Fat Goth – STUD (Hefty Dafty) 32. Daughter – If You Leave (4AD) 33. Adam Stafford – Imaginary Walls Collapse (Song, By Toad) 34. Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks (Polydor) 35. Forest Swords – Engravings (Tri-Angle) 36. Julia Holter – Loud City Song (Domino) 37. Rick Redbeard – No Selfish Heart (Chemikal Underground) 38. Julianna Barwick – Nepenthe (Dead Oceans) 39. The Field – Cupid's Head (Kompakt) 40. Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady (Atlantic) 41. Grouper – The Man Who Died In His Boat (Kranky) 42. HAIM – Days are Gone (Polydor) 43. Palms – Palms (Ipecac) 44. Baths – Obsidian (Anticon) 45. Majical Cloudz – Impersonator (Matador) 46. Mount Kimbie – Cold Spring Fault Less Youth (Warp) 47. MONEY – The Shadow Of Heaven (Bella Union) 48. Zomby – With Love (4AD) 49. Deafheaven – Sunbather (Deathwish Inc) 50. The Haxan Cloak – Excavation (Tri-Angle)

n a year where the bloated, ego-fed excesses of mainstream hip-hop became the central narrative of pop culture, it would have been easy to write off rap. It would have been logical to conclude that rap had entered its own hair metal phase – prizing lifestyle over content, celebrity status over lyrical skill. What was needed, amid the feting of also-rans and wannabes like A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar, was a 20-year veteran to remind us all why we loved rap in the first place. Enter El-P, former Company Flow MC and founder of Def Jux, and his partner in rhyme, Atlanta’s Killer Mike. Their collaboration as Run the Jewels snatched the mask from hip-hop’s face and smashed it, exposing the ugliness beneath in a riot of 808 beats and futuristic lyrical beatdowns. “It’s not my fucking job to regulate the rap world and shit,” El-P spits down the phoneline to us now, uncomfortable with the notion that Run the Jewels are hip-hop’s saviours. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s great if everyone just sticks to the same thing they are doing, because it makes me and Mike look like fucking champs.” Laughter

echoes down the line as El deftly sidesteps the mantle of rap revolutionary. Regardless, one thing the duo can’t deny is the delirious reaction to their recent stage shows, as evidenced in the video for Get It. “It’s been fucking crazy,” says Killer Mike. “Shit’s been going fucking maniac.” El agrees: “It’s been pure fucking mayhem.” Given the adversarial nature of the lyrics (two examples: ‘I’ll pull a pistol on your poodle and your fucking baby’ – Mike, and ‘Try to pet my fucking head again and I’mma put a tooth through the flesh of the palm that you jack with’ – El-P), was Run the Jewels meant as a challenge to wack emcees? “We came into it and we really wanted to rip rappers’ heads off,” says El-P. “We approached it competitively, for sure. We wanted to make sure that nobody could fuck with us. But that is what every rapper is supposed to feel like, I think. It’s not an over-arching critique, or statement.” Although the beats on Run the Jewels are ultra-modern rather than retro, they revel in the simplicity of the 80s hip-hop aesthetic, a marked digression from the complex science fiction synth adventures of El-P’s Cancer4Cure. The 80s rap culture was an inspiration as much for its universality as its stylistic components. “In the 80s, every nine-year-old kid loved rap,” says Mike. With Run the Jewels II in the works, and an imminent European release of the first album

Photo: Sonia Kerr

In an attempt to distill the last 12 months of music into a list that hopefully at least three readers can get behind, we spoke to the creators of our ten democratically elected albums of 2013. Well, eight out of ten...

wanted to be a part of any fucking gang or movement or scene.” That restlessness informs How to Stop...’s singular diversity, from Singing of the Bonesaws – a deceptively insightful, George Saundersesque public service announcement – to the discordant lullaby of French Lessons, which transfigures love’s mundanities while lampooning the male disease of emotion-denial. “It’s about the common narrative of love, as people slip into middle-aged relationships,” Falkous says of French Lessons. “And people tell you how these relationships play out – ‘Oh, you’re married now, welcome to your wife not listening to you for the next 35 years’ – in a jokey way which suggests a greater underlying truth. It’s funny to see people repeat those ideas, even when you can tell they don’t exactly believe it themselves,


in the same way the British refer to the weather: ‘It’s raining again.’ ‘Of course it’s fucking raining again, you live in Wales. Shut your fucking mouth.’” Such eloquence buttresses Falkous’s superior wit and passion: escalating house prices, careless ejaculators, passive media consumers – all come under fire as Wire-bound riffs bombard like tankers, and the effect is captivating. How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident possesses charm and class; the self-righteousness of genuine rightness; a problematic knack for delivering observations that, perversely, marry awful misanthropy with resoundingly tight reasoning, belting out a soundtrack to the pairing’s lewd honeymoon. You’d cry if you could stop laughing. [Jazz Monroe]


8. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest (Warp)

interludes.’ The latter have given previous works their texture and themes, meaning Tomorrow’s Harvest feels more organic than, say, the empirical division of styles they exercised on 2002’s Geogaddi. The near-total media blackout that shrouds or an elusive duo who once proclaimed ‘music brothers Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin is math,’ the cryptic, numerical-led anmeans author intent remains suitably nebunouncement of Boards of Canada’s fourth album lous. However, the down-tempo, harder-edged was surely the most apt of marketing campaigns. Tomorrow’s Harvest seems to invoke the enThere was the discovery of a unique artefact; a croachment of the city on the countryside, solitary Record Store Day 12-inch, and the subse- further evidenced by the album’s artwork and quent frenzied online treasure hunt for the inter- a rare insight from Eoin on their Pentland Hills’ locking codes that finally confirmed the imminent studio space being a necessary escape from the arrival of Tomorrow’s Harvest. urban sprawl. In a sense, it’s the bucolic dream With the cyber-dust finally settled though, of 2005’s The Campfire Headphase turned gritty was the secretive Scottish siblings’ first album in nightmare. eight years really worth the wait? In a word, yes. Except that Tomorrow’s Harvest is still Tomorrow’s Harvest is certainly no suckerpunch, imbued with an underlying sense of hope and more an unsettling glare before invoking a nervwonder, a trait that came fully-formed to most ous breakdown, yet 15 years after their revered, listeners back in 1998. That may offer Boards of wide-eyed debut album Music Has the Right to Canada some leverage, yet it’s a commodity they Children, it’s a tact that feels warranted in these have never traded in and Tomorrow’s Harvest is, less oblivious times. were it needed, further evidence of this. The hoUnlike previous albums, Tomorrow’s Harvest rizon may look a little greyer and the climate a bit has no immediate, attention-grabbing show tune. colder, but the field in which Boards of Canada No Roygbiv, no 1969, no Dayvan Cowboy. But then stand tall is still resolutely their own. [Darren Carle] BoC are not a singles band and here they made that clear, further blurring the lines between their traditional ‘songs’ and intermittent ‘musical


Photo: Emily Wylde


7. Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse (Atlantic)


fter the promising dress rehearsal of Frightened Rabbit’s debut album, Sing the Greys, the Selkirk troupe quickly followed up with main event The Midnight Organ Fight, a barbed, anthemic indie brew that drew rapturous applause. Little surprise, then, that 2010’s The Winter of Mixed Drinks was keenly received yet fell short of some weighty expectations. “When you make a record that connects with people in such a strong way, it’s really difficult thereafter to find a place where you can write songs and produce albums that resonate in the same way,” says frontman Scott Hutchison of Organ Fight’s looming shadow. “So it’s really nice to feel like we’ve done that.” And ‘done that’ they certainly have with Pedestrian Verse, their fourth album and first for major label Atlantic Records. Its success can certainly be measured quantifiably, through chart position, new fans gained and the band’s general step-up to the bigger leagues. More importantly, though, the critics seem to have judged Pedestrian Verse on its own merit rather than as an addendum to the band’s previous album. “It’s the first time that reaction to one of our records has been positive in both those spheres,” agrees Hutchison. “This album saw us take a step into a realm that had previously been untouched.” While the Rabbits’ steady ascent was predictable enough after signing to Atlantic Records in 2010, the resultant up-turn in quality of their fourth LP was less certain. What seems to have helped is Hutchison’s opening up of the

December 2013

songwriting process to the rest of his bandmates, leading to the creation of songs that sound more layered and crafted from the ground up. “It really refreshed the whole notion of being in Frightened Rabbit and I think that’s reflected in the album,” says Hutchison. “The process we went through really pulled things away from my singular vision and helped make this record stand by itself.” Of course, the wider exposure they’ve gained in the interim has helped draw a line in the sand, as new fans come to the fray unencumbered by the weight of the past. However, veteran listeners have far from abandoned the good ship F’Rabbit – a testament to what they’ve achieved with this particular record. It’s subtle, diverse and incredibly accomplished, while sounding effortless, as if these euphoric tunes, these ear-worming riffs and these heartfelt tales were always hanging in the ether, ready for the band to utilise when they alone were ready. “What people recognise Frightened Rabbit to be – honest music that doesn’t adhere to a particular style and isn’t about us being a buzz band – that’s still intact,” states Hutchison; “It’s a great place to be in.” It’s this balance of addressing the in-built, anthemic nature of their music while not kowtowing to how an indie-rock band that finds itself on a major label should sound that has unified their critical and commercial acclaim this time around. “You always say, and you always mean it at the time, that your last record is your best one,” says Hutchison as he reflects on the year Pedestrian Verse has ushered in. “But I think I’ll look back on this one with greater fondness than I have before. I do believe it’s the best album we’ve made.” [Darren Carle]

andling your own personal catharsis is one thing, seeing it written and spoken back to you writ large is quite another. Forget the ‘psych’ tag that so many have clumsily bracketed Hookworms in with this year in light of their thunderous debut album Pearl Mystic; what really stood out among the likes of Away/Towards’ white-knuckle motorik and In Our Time’s billowing textural fug was the emotional intensity scorched black across its surface, which has since come to define the Leeds five-piece’s live shows. Vocalist MJ laid his soul bare on issues of depression and isolation, liberal use of a Space Echo pedal barely hiding the wracked frustration pouring forth. “I tried listening to it recently but two minutes in I couldn’t deal with it, it was horrible to me,” the musician and producer tells The Skinny from his Suburban Home Studio. “I hear it in terms of the music I make with my friends but I also hear it in terms of the aesthetics that I don’t like about it now.” Plenty of others have listened to it though, since it was recorded over nine months in 2012. Their album tour sold out, they stormed festival slots at Latitude and Liverpool Psych Fest and ultimately signed to Domino imprint Weird World to release Pearl Mystic in America, and play their debut US shows in New York in October. “We were just writing Pearl Mystic for the sake of creativity,” MJ reflects, “we’re more aware we’re

a band now. Which sounds silly, but with Pearl Mystic we were writing around jobs – I had to prioritise my studio for other works – and we do that still, but with everything that’s happened since, it feels split: I don’t consider band practice ‘Hookworms’, that’s just hanging out with my friends. ‘Hookworms’ itself feels like a separate entity now, it’s everything that’s gone on around us. And it’s been odd because we’ve never been aspirational.” Pearl Mystic opened up the positivity of opportunity for Hookworms, but for a band who’ve been vocal from their inception about their commitment to a DIY attitude – the record is still pressed in the UK by Nottingham independent Gringo Records – they’ve found their beliefs angled back at them as their spiralling popularity causes ethical dilemmas on a daily basis, while the music industry opens up its jaws in front of them. “It’s been hard to find the balance, you become normalised to strange things happening,” MJ says. “It’s very easy for people to sit in a pub and decide whether we should or shouldn’t do something when they’ve not faced it. I still feel comfortable with everything we’ve done. But every time these offers come up you do have to stop and at least contemplate it. It would be inhuman not to.” Ultimately though, the five-piece have only gone with what’s comfortable with them – which is all you can do. “And you know, I got to go to New York, and that was just because of the music!” Long may it stay that way. [Simon Jay Catling]

Photo: Richard Manning

6. Hookworms – Pearl Mystic (Gringo)




4. The National – Trouble Will Find Me (4AD)

5. CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe (Virgin / Goodbye)


lot of electronic bands these days, not wanting to name names, they shy away from the melody, shy away from the song and it becomes all about how the song is arranged or about interesting production ideas. They forget that the song is the basis of all of that. So while we were recording this record, we made sure songwriting was at the forefront.” Martin Doherty is ticking off the freeway miles on the CHVRCHES tour bus, a triumphant show at LA’s prestigious Wiltern Theatre behind him. Next stop: San Diego. For an act who were, in his words, “a studio project” a mere year or so ago, the transition to becoming one of the UK’s best-loved bands is something he’s gradually becoming accustomed to, but it still feels distinctly odd. Oh, and there’s that growing US fan base to factor in, too. “It occurred to me last night while we were onstage that we came to the States for the first time in March and played a 300 capacity venue in LA. This is our third time here, and now we’re filling a 2,400 capacity venue.” He trails off. “It’s, you know, a lot to take in at times!” Debut album The Bones of What You Believe set the task of squaring up to established live favourites like The Mother We Share and Lies, didn’t shirk the challenge. “We paid a lot of attention to the idea of not necessarily aiming for anything commercial or a hit, but concentrating on foreground and melody at every opportunity,” says Doherty. “We’re not afraid to let a melody be the key to a song. That’s what we’re about first and foremost: you know, just writing the tunes that we hope can connect with people, the idea that the song can be dressed in whatever way and still stand up on its own.”

3. Factory Floor – Factory Floor (DFA)


o borrow a song title from Factory Floor’s self-titled debut album, there are two different ways you can approach being in a live band. You can refine your studio technique, recording and tracking each minute element of your sound, and archiving the material. Or you can throw yourself into the crucible of live performance, embarking on soaring, extended jams that guide your process when you finally return to the studio. Factory Floor have done both – during the making of Factory Floor, the band lived, worked, performed and recorded together, taking hundreds of hours of recorded performance and then stripping it back into the gleaming, polished



Recover, released in the spring, and the first track to appear from the album sessions, was deliciously simple in both melody and arrangement and yet seemed to arrive bearing half a dozen spiralling hooks. “Yeah! We always approached that song with the idea that there would be two steps of the chorus. So that when the listener settles in to the first ‘If I recover…’ section, there would be another gear. That ‘double chorus’ thing, we use it a couple of times on the album, but Recover is the one where we got it closest to what we were aiming for. And, you know, why have one chorus when you can have two, right?” But where TBOWYB really succeeds is in how, as with the best (in Neil Tennant’s words) ‘tragi disco,’ it plays with shadow and light. Behind every euphoric synth wash or dizzying battery of beats lurks Lauren Mayberry’s brooding, knife-edge lyrics. “Absolutely. I think you’ve touched on something that was always in our minds while in the studio, which was to try at every possible juncture to balance any kind of lightness or sweetness with a darker edge: whenever we were at our most poppy, to be singing non-standard poppy lyrics. The lyrics are really important to our band. You take a song like We Sink where the melody is at its most simple and accessible and Lauren’s singing ‘I’ll be a thorn in your side until you die.’ We tried to use that kind of juxtaposition wherever possible.” It’s a genuinely triumphant debut and, for the converts, something of a relief that CHVRCHES had enough up their sleeve to deliver on all that promise. Hopefully, the band has had time to look back similarly and take pleasure from the results. Doherty is philosophical. We’ve been here in America for a few days and for the first time I’ve been able to take a look around and see how well the album is selling and see how many people are coming to the shows and derive some satisfaction from that because, well, this is what we always talked about doing and it seems to be happening. Which suggests we got something right!” [Gary Kaill]

walls of noise, techno, disco and post-punk that make up their angular, minimalist debut on DFA Records. In public, they’ve taken these blueprints as a starting point for wildly energetic improvised performances, devastating crowds at raves, nightclubs, festivals and art galleries with their lean, modern take on industrial music. “It’s about locking in with each other, it’s a lot more rhythmic,” says Nik Void, singer and guitarist (although these roles shift and mutate, just like their live excursions). “You get the sense that you are taking off in an aeroplane, that’s when it really starts to happen. It’s still down to chance what any given show will evolve into. We still push it, we’re still bringing in new sounds and bits of equipment as we go along, just to keep it fresh, and mess about with it a bit.” Is that sweet spot, where the three members lock into a new rhythmic plane and focus all of that intensity, getting easier to reach? “Definitely,” says Void. “The final member of the

Photo: Ryan McGoverne

hen his wife Joy Davidman died after three years of marriage, C.S. Lewis recorded his grief in a series of journals, published pseudonymously in the early 1960s. In the fourth and final diary dedicated to the subject, Lewis wrote on the immensity of his theme and the depths of its reach. ‘I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow,’ he reflected. ‘Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state, but a process.’ The quote came to mind in May 2013, when The National set up their instruments in New York’s MoMA PS1 gallery and proceeded to play the same song – High Violet’s Sorrow – for six hours straight. Over and over and over they struck up the same beat, the same chords, the same sadness, as if picking a scab or etching a deeper and deeper trench. More than 100 times, vocalist Matt Berninger repeated his weary mantra: “Sorrow found me when I was young / sorrow waited, sorrow won.” A fortnight later, Trouble Will Find Me was released. You don’t have to dig deep to hear echoes of that same stinging emotion, with Berninger intoning ‘I didn’t ask for this pain / it just came over me’ on Pink Rabbits; declaring ‘I do not know what is wrong with me / the sour is in the cut’ on Graceless; threatening ‘If you lose me, I’m gonna die’ on Heavenfaced; and so forth. It seems that, whatever the intentions of the Sorrow-full marathon, scouring the slate wasn’t among them, with familiar themes revisited across the album: regret, self-doubt and melancholia, but also hope, tenderness and lust.

But then The National have always been a band of subtle revelations, with each new release a refinement of the last rather than a sudden shift in gears. Their sixth album continues this tradition: it softens its immediate predecessor’s more brazenly anthemic urges, but retains – perfects, even – the core qualities that have brought them to this point. The results are understated but profoundly impactful – see, for instance, the shimmering guitar that climaxes I Should Live in Salt’s penitent pleas, or the way Berninger’s baritone is buffeted by Bryan Devendorf’s pitter-patter drums in Demons’ one-line chorus. Despite confessions of awkwardness and discomfort in the lyrics, Trouble Will Find Me is the sound of a band with confidence in spades, and the courage to keep picking at the things that hurt to see what’s underneath. [Chris Buckle]

Photo: Georgia Kuhn

Photo: Ann Margaret Campbell


band is the music, it controls us sometimes. It’s all analogue based, and we don’t do anything preprogrammed, so it will always be touch and go what’s going to happen. The majority of the time it works, because we’ve been playing together so long – it’s become our own language, it’s how we speak to each other.” Minimalism and repetition are the foundation stones of Factory Floor’s sound. Eschewing song structures, chords, complex shifts in timing and melodic progression in favour of locked, building and mutating rhythmic patterns, spectral snatches of vocals and brooding slabs of noise, Void is passionate about their approach, and the dividends it pays to strip everything back. “It’s like starting anew,” she says. “It’s like punctuation in a way, all these guitar hits, the amps with feedback spewing out, or Dom’s electronic arps getting more acid, this all brings in melodies, although not a prominent melody.” When The Skinny first spoke to Factory Floor


in the summer of 2012, it was from the London warehouse where they ate, slept and recorded their album – there was a sense of it being a tightly-knit family as much as a band. Now, only Gabe Gurnsey remains in the warehouse, with Void and Dominic Butler having moved away. “It just felt like, for me personally, it was time to move on once the record was finished,” says Void. “I felt like I was ready to move away from it and set my sights on the next chapter. Gabe stayed on, but unfortunately, it’s being demolished in January. I think we might have some big parties in there before it gets torn down.” Factory Floor, having established their identity and nailed their process, are ready to be themselves. “We feel a little bit more confident now,” says Void. “We know our fans, we know what we do.” [Bram E. Gieben] Factory Floor play Liverpool Kazimier on 5 Dec and Manchester Gorilla on 7 Dec


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2. Steve Mason – Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time (Double Six) cross a year of austerity budgets, fracking controversies and seemingly endless state surveillance revelations, the anger and frustration that structures Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time has rarely been far from thoughts or headlines. With his sails filled by a zeitgeist wind of change, Steve Mason’s follow-up to 2010’s Boys Outside saw the ex-Beta Band frontman bare and sharpen his iconoclastic edge, calling out complacency and corruption and encouraging others to do the same – which, in a popular music landscape largely allergic to explicit political engagement, ensured he spent 2013 proudly standing out from the crowd. Whether turning festival stages into politician-bashing soapboxes or using promotional interviews to expound his thesis of social change via open dialogue, Mason tackled head-on a subject all too often viewed askance or bathed in metaphor – in itself, enough to mark Monkey Minds… as one of the year’s key releases. That all this heartfelt polemic came attached to some of the most rousing, refined and inspired music of his career – integrating influences from hip-hop to gospel to dub – didn’t hurt either. Calling to congratulate Mason on his high placing in our albums of the year poll, he takes the opportunity to recapitulate the record’s impetus and message, while reflecting on its reception. When we previously spoke in March, ahead

of the album’s release, Mason had noted that political concept albums are “fraught with problems,” remarking that “many have gone down that route before and failed.” He must therefore be pleased, we suggest, at the nimble way in which Monkey Minds… has bucked the trend? “Yeah, absolutely,” he replies, speaking from his tour bus en route to his final live dates of the year. “For me personally, making a record after Boys Outside was quite intimidating because I thought that was one of the best records I’d ever made. And once I realised what I wanted to do – that is, make a political concept album – that became a worry in itself, because people have massive preconceptions about any kind of music and politics connection. So for it to be so well received by people who like what I do, from radio stations like 6 Music and independent record shops and obviously magazines like The Skinny, has been really heart-warming to be honest. And it’s meant that people have been asking me about my politics, so it’s involved a huge amount of dialogue – which was really the intention of the record anyway: to start a conversation about where we are and what we’re facing.” While the album’s overtly political elements are first to sear themselves in the listener’s consciousness, there’s more to Monkey Minds… than dissent and agitation, with the visceral, ire-infused likes of Fire (introduced live as “about being invited to Tony Blair’s house and strapping him to a chair and setting fire to him”) and Fight Them Back (a charged call for action against social oppression) only constituting a slither of its full range of emotional registers. Amid the fomentation lies a softer impulse: optimism,

conveyed through moments like From Hate We Hope’s spoken word interlude (“I remember looking at myself and thinking how amazing it is to be human, you know?”) and closer Come To Me’s tentative hopefulness, which ends the album with the words ‘it’ll be alright.’ Such contrasts lend Monkey Minds... its three-dimensionality; it’s not a flat protest placard, but a profoundly human morass of introspection and conflicting passions. “I think the whole thing, from it coming out ’til now, feels very positive,” continues Mason on the subject of the album’s reception. “People have understood it’s not some empty call for a pie in the sky revolution or something like that. They seem to understand that it’s genuine.” To Mason’s mind, conviction is key. “I always make sure I have 100% belief in everything I put out,” he says, identifying the Beta Band’s maligned debut the sole exception. “That’s really, really important of an artist like me, because people expect it. Once artists like me – and I don’t mean just me, there are other artists doing similar things – but once we stop making music, I dread to think what will be left. All you’re going to be left with is people coming out of music colleges and stage schools and all that, and it’s not really art any more, it’s all made by committee. I find most of what I hear now very derivative and full of fake emotion – it just doesn’t feel real to me in any way. So I believe that it’s incredibly important to put every single drop of energy and belief into every record that I put out.” With Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time as evidence, we’re inclined to agree. [Chris Buckle]

thing was a nice interlude for us,” Power recalls, “but we were already in a very separate place and well into the album. We didn’t have any expectations for it and we still don’t. It gets dangerous anticipating it and thinking about its reception because you start to pander to these outside external forces and that can be detrimental.” The pair revelled in putting the album together – the first solely produced by themselves (“it was a step into the unknown which we always try to do, otherwise we’d be living in a very contained world”) – at their own Space Mountain studios which, in another indicator of their keenness to remain mentally pure, contrasted hugely with its bustling Dalston surroundings. “It was an amazing little hub. It was crazy; on the other side of the building’s shutters was Shacklewell Lane, and yet we felt totally secluded from all of that. We’ve never really had a sense towards any kind

of geographical location within our sound so we created a world that was in our heads first and is now being visualised in however many different ways in the heads of the people listening to it.” Released in July, some 11 months on from the Olympic exposure of being played to 900 million people worldwide (“something that I’ve not noticed the physical benefit of,” Andrew Hung told us when we spoke to him around its release), Slow Focus managed to broach the UK Top 40 – clocking in at 36 – as well as topping the Record Store Charts; that’s no mean feat for an album that comes from a duo so abrasive and stubbornly individualistic in a time where saturation of choice has perhaps led to a retreat to the safety of the crowd in the upper echelons of the charts. “But I think its success is testament to the kind of times we live in and the speed at which culture can be shared now,” argues Power of their

relatively outré music going far beyond where similar acts might’ve in the previous decade. “I think it’s amazing that when we first started out we were just jamming out in each other’s bedrooms for our own entertainment, and that’s not really changed. To get to this point without any external influence coming in to try and shape what we do is a really beautiful feeling.” Power admits that he hasn’t disconnected from the record yet, like other artists so often do. “Andy doesn’t so much; he likes to take a step back and leaves things to breathe for a while. I tend to obsess over little intricacies, so it’s a nice balance between us, but I don’t really stop even after it’s been released. “But then,” he adds, “we wouldn’t be making this music if we couldn’t see ourselves listening to it anyway, would we?” [Simon Jay Catling]

Photo: Ann Margaret Campbell


1. Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus (ATP) Benjamin Power and Andrew Hung’s third record saw them ascend to the very top of Space Mountain xpectation’ is a word that crops up a lot in Benjamin Power’s syntax these days. One half of Fuck Buttons, alongside his close friend Andrew Hung, Power hadn’t, for the bulk of his time creating music, had to think too much about expectation. Yet Slow Focus, the duo’s brilliantly discordant third album, was perhaps the first material in their history that they knew would be picked apart by the eyes of the world, following the critical success of their second album Tarot Sport in 2009 and the arguably even greater exposure they gained when their music was used by Danny Boyle during London’s Olympic opening ceremony in 2012. Variations of an answer of ‘we don’t like to pigeonhole ourselves’ are a dime-a-dozen among artists, often ringing hollow amid the sheer weight of history’s back catalogue that we’re now almost irresistibly exposed to in 2013; but when Power tells us “we never had any preconceptions about how a track was going to sound” you really believe him. For one, amid Slow Focus’s competing layers of hardware dissonance, industrial tropes and – on The Red Wing in particular – breakbeat experimentation lurks an almost alien DNA. It is a record that slips between guises before the listener can even attempt to peg it down; each track is laced with a foreboding menace, yet with an intention that’s never made clear – tracks in effect blank slates for the listener to map their own interpretation on them. “When we were making Slow Focus – like usual – I wasn’t listening to anything else that was going on,” Power explains. “I’d hear all these new names being thrown around on the internet but I’d never listen. Even something like that can subconsciously worm its way into the creation process. I genuinely listen to my own music more than anyone else’s. That’s not egotistical, it’s to try and ensure creative purity.” Fuck Buttons strive more than most to maintain singularity within their work. “The Olympic

December 2013

Photo: Daniel Harris





Films of the Year: Girl Power Is this the year women got a fair shake in movies? Our top ten suggests a tentative yes: from Wadjda’s pint-sized rebel and Zero Dark Thirty’s ferocious CIA agent to Frances Ha’s loveable flake, 2013’s best films were dominated by great female characters

1. Before Midnight (Richard Linklater) The standout line of 2013 comes in the extended third act of its standout film, Richard Linklater’s second unexpected sequel to 1995’s Before Sunrise: “I fucked up my entire life because of the way you sing.” This third part is just as intimate, natural and intelligent as its predecessors, but with an added raw frankness concerning just what nine years of routine, stagnation and, well, having kids will do to a romance that was heavy on idealism, and so dependent on that race against the clock as presented in Sunrise and Before Sunset. This is the toughest watch of Linklater’s great trilogy, though the funniest too thanks to how recognisable the central couple’s bitter spats are; it’s also the most rewarding. [Josh Slater-Williams]

2. Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach)

3. The Selfish Giant (Clio Barnard)

4. Wadjda (Haifaa al-Mansour)

Visiting her former roommate Frances’s new dwellings – dwellings that change multiple times during Frances Ha, as the eponymous 27-year-old drifts across the five boroughs and beyond – BFF Sophie delivers one of the film’s numerous arch zingers: “This apartment is very… aware of itself,” she sniffs. The same could be said, less derisorily, for Noah Baumbach’s seventh feature, which self-consciously offers familiarity in its themes (everyday embarrassment and the quarter-life crisis) and execution (with a monochrome NYC underscoring the Woody Allen parallels). But in the title role, co-screenwriter Greta Gerwig offers something fresh: not that indie staple of a kooky fantasy to fall for, but a gauchely charming hero to root for, with neuroses balanced by a vibrant joie de vivre. [Chris Buckle]

Loosely adapted from a story by Oscar Wilde, Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant takes place in the less-than-Wildean surroundings of working-class Yorkshire, a society destroyed by poverty. The setting may resemble so many grim kitchen-sink dramas of the past, but the grace and tenderness with which Barnard handles this material allows it to transcend our expectations of such pictures; there is a stark beauty amid the bleakness here. First-time actors Conner Chapman and Shaun Thomas are unforgettable as the tearaway kids illegally stripping copper to secure cash for their struggling families, and Barnard draws us so deeply into their experiences that when tragedy strikes, it lands with an impact that will leave you reeling. [Philip Concannon]

The first thing that needs to be said about Wadjda is that it’s simply a terrific movie. Haifaa al-Mansour’s deceptively slight tale of a 10-year-old Saudi Arabian girl who dreams of owning a bicycle is witty, moving and blessed with a wonderful performance by Waad Mohammed as the title character. But beyond that, the very existence of Wadjda is worth celebrating. Written and directed by a woman in a country where women are barely seen, let alone heard, the film stands as a powerful feminist statement, delivering its damning indictment of Saudi oppression in the playfully rebellious spirit of its young protagonist. Wadjda may be a small film, but it’s a vital landmark in Arabian cinema. [PC]

5. Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine)

6. The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer)

7. Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)

Spring Breakers’ base pleasures are plentiful: it has enough raw material (beer and bongs, tits and ass, gunplay and violence) to delight any self-respecting exploitation-movie junkie. But, like its goofy stoner-dude director, Harmony Korine, it’s much smarter than it looks. Korine stares into the heart of American youthculture and finds a beautiful, hallucinatory nightmare. Four girls, two of them played by former Disney princesses, take to the beaches of Florida for that annual debauched teenage pilgrimage: spring break. Their candy-coloured trash-adventure is both gross and engrossing, like the cinematic equivalent of a Miley Cyrus MTV performance. The film also has, in James Franco’s turn as a gold-toothed gangsta rapper, the comic performance of the year. [Jamie Dunn]

By inviting Indonesian death-squad leaders to recreate in the cinematic style of their choosing the persecution and execution of alleged Communists in the mid 60s, Joshua Oppenheimer has opened a window to the psyche of some of the most despicable people who have ever lived. This is a hugely important work highlighting crimes for which these men have never been held accountable, but Oppenheimer is also concerned with the way we perceive and process evil, and how evil perceives itself. There are no easy answers in this nightmarish, surreal viewing experience, but it is an experience that must be endured. Possibly the purest distillation of warped humanity on film, and certainly the year’s most powerful. [Chris Fyvie]

Watching the latest Hollywood sci-fi extravaganzas can often be exhausting. It’s hard to relax when the backbreaking effort is there to see on every stereoscopic pixel. What makes Gravity such a joy, then, is that we can’t see the seams. Its balletic camerawork and long takes feel effortless, its performances are natural and, best of all, its CGI effects are invisible. It took Alfonso Cuarón and his team years to make, but its elegance and apparent spontaneity suggests it was shot in an afternoon. This allows us to empathise fully with Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) as she floats adrift through space, avoiding space shrapnel, exploding space stations and crises of a more existential nature. This is cinema to get lost in. [JD]

8. Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow)

9. Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu)

10. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (David Lowery)

Incurring criticism from both ends of the political spectrum, director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal’s forensic dramatisation of the decade-long hunt for Osama Bin Laden proved something of an ideological Rorschach test: torture apologia to some, soft liberal indictment to others. Fittingly, the film’s true character lies somewhere in the murky, contestable hinterland, with more room for debate than either flank of the anti-ZDT pincer allowed, as Jessica Chastain’s hard-nosed CIA agent homes in on her elusive white whale. For all its simplifications and elisions, it’s a marvel of narrative engineering, with years of global turbulence and knotty sleuthing trimmed to fit a thriller format that rivets in the moment but leaves you chewing over its content long after. [CB]

Cristian Mungiu’s feature-length follow-up to 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days shares genes with its predecessor, and other key films of the supposed Romanian New Wave, in painting a vivid picture of systems failing to aid those they’ve been set up to serve. Here, two young women, friends from their childhood spent in an orphanage, reunite at the Orthodox convent where one now lives. The friend who has come to visit acts increasingly volatile – years of struggle with mental illness having deepened – and the convent’s priest and nuns try to address this with increasingly desperate measures. Mungiu’s dry, slow style, heavy on extended single takes, fuels white-knuckle tension and discomfort, pitchblack comedy, and an ambiguous blend of both realist and symbolic touches. [JS-W]

David Lowery’s dustily romantic western steeped in archaic Americana immediately recalls Terrence Malick at his most accessible – no faint praise. Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck exude a seductive stoicism and melancholy as doomed lovers Ruth and Bob, while Ben Foster and Keith Carradine provide their own quietly brooding support in a beautiful, poetic film about longing, fate and the past. Bradford Young’s lush magic hour cinematography and Daniel Hart’s folksy score help create an ethereal atmosphere for these superb performances to breathe; Lowery’s supremely confident pacing and faith in his team suggests there’s a great deal more to come from the literate writer-director. As tender and affecting a drama as there was this year. [CF]





Best of the Fests Want to get a headstart on next year’s top ten movies? We look ahead to three great UK film festivals happening in early 2014


ooking to make a New Year’s resolution? Here’s one we’d heartily recommend. Instead of joining a gym, cutting your alcohol intake back to a bottle of wine a night or switching to low-fat mayo, you should endeavour to do something more edifying, like attending a film festival or two. Glasgow Film Festival (GFF) has been quietly growing over the last decade to become one of the biggest film festivals in the country (only London and Edinburgh can boast more attendees), but what makes it such a joy to attend is that it still retains an intimate flavour. It’s managed the tricky balancing act of attracting world premieres and big stars (guests at the 2013 event included Joss Whedon, John C. Reilly and Saoirse Ronan) without succumbing to the trappings of ‘more prestigious’ festivals. It has red carpet glamour when it’s called for but always feels laid back and inclusive; turn up in tux and tails or t-shirt and jeans – either way you’ll feel right at home. Some details of the 2014 festival, which takes place 20 Feb-2 Mar, are beginning to emerge. Chile will be the annual country of focus and, in the retrospective strand, which is usually reserved for a single film star, the festival celebrates a whole year of Hollywood cinema. Specifically, 1939, the year in which the Glasgow Film Theatre, the home and chief hub of GFF, was opened. As the golden age of American cinema goes, 1939 was a particularly good vintage, with Stagecoach, Ninotchka and The Wizard of

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Oz among the classics released that year and screening in the GFF’s new Hooray for Hollywood strand. As well as classic films and premieres, GFF also has a flair for more unconventional festival happenings. Last year, for example, they screened Walter Hill’s cult classic The Warriors in the city’s underground (if you know the film you’ll recognise it as an inspired setting) and Jaws on a century-old sailing ship (we can only assume that festival organisers cried out, “we’re going to need a bigger boat” when this screening sold out). GFF will be revealing some of its more singular events before the end of the year. Look to for more details. Innovative pop-up programming is also the strength of Birmingham’s Flatpack Festival. Taking place in the city’s long-abandoned factory and warehouse district, Flatpack’s programme is, shall we say, eclectic. ‘The kind of work we put on depends upon the project,’ Flatpack say on their website, ‘but recurring themes include animation, music, artists’ film, archive discoveries, offbeat shorts for kids and live cinema.’ They also manage to squeeze in the occasional bog-standard movie too. What Flatpack do best is create a sense of occasion. They like to explore, as they say themselves, that ‘fertile territory where film bumps up against other art forms, showing people things they might not otherwise have seen.’ This sensibility is evident in some of the events already announced for Flatpack 8 (20-30 Mar), such as the

Pop-up cinema at GFF

UK premiere of The World Made of Itself, in which filmmaker Miwa Matreyek interacts with her own animation, and Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre, a film made around the turn of the 19th century featuring theatre and variety stars of the day, restored by the Cinémathèque Française and accompanied by a new live score. A more focused festival programme can be found at Manchester’s ¡Viva! (7-23 Mar), the UK’s largest celebration of Spanish and Latin America cinema. The festival turns 20 in March and the few crumbs of information that have slipped out suggest it’s going to be a stellar year. Among the ¡Viva! titles revealed so far, we can highly recommend Diego Quemada-Díez’s extraordinary The Golden Dream, a deeply humane road movie following three Guatemalan teenagers as they make their way northwards to try to cross the Mexican border into America. It’s the debut feature from Quemada-Díez, who earned his stripes working as camera assistant on several Ken Loach pictures. Two other films already announced that have caught our eye are concerned with characters


dealing with their sexuality. The first is Bad Hair, Mariana Rondon’s intimate film about a preteen boy who’s obsessed with having his frizzy hair straightened, much to his widowed mother’s chagrin, as she fears this may be the first sign of his burgeoning homosexuality. Rarely are motherson relationships so finely observed on screen. The other film in the programme with a queer sensibility is Hawaii, from Argentinean filmmaker Marco Berger. We’ve not caught this one yet, but reports suggest it’s an artful film with an erotic charge. Look to for further programme details. These regional festivals show that there’re vital films events happening beyond the M25 citadel. All three are worth a trip. Glasgow Film Festival 2014 takes place 20 Feb-2 Mar: Flatpack Festival 8 takes place 20-30 Mar: ¡Viva! takes place 7-23 Mar:



Photo: Stuart Crawford

Words: Jamie Dunn

Panto Limbo It’s time for Christmas theatre! Oh no it isn’t. Oh yes it is Interview: Jacky Hall Illustration: Josh Hurley


e’s behind you.’ Men dressed as women. Being whacked in the face by a Vimto lolly chucked from the stage. For Brits, pantomime is an annual ritual – and even the smaller towns don’t miss out on a star name to attract audiences to their iteration of Jack and the Beanstalk/ Cinderella/Dick Whittington. However, away from some shows’ £90 family tickets and boisterous, sugar-fuelled ten-year-olds, there are alternative festive stage shows. Wanted! Robin Hood is one of them. Produced by the Library Theatre Company at The Lowry, Salford, it’s a magical retelling of the tale by playwright Charles Way. Director Amy Leach and designer Hayley Grindle – who were also responsible for Arabian Nights, the Library’s sumptuous 2012 Christmas production – are the creative team behind the show. “What makes this different to other Christmas shows is it has this epic, giant, heightened feel to it,” says Leach, taking a break from rehearsals, her voice crackling with enthusiasm. “We’ve been talking a lot about Shakespearean plays during rehearsals, and it’s a bit like a mash-up of Henry V and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Festive theatre inspired by the Bard? “It’s dark, powerful, romantic and moving,”

she says. Another alternative is Zagmuth, a family show by Take A Hint at Liverpool’s Lantern Theatre, in which a young girl discovers the magic of Christmas. Rock’n’roll panto Aladdin, meanwhile, returns to Liverpool Playhouse, full of singing and hip-shaking, and Lancaster Grand concentrate on the over-16s with After Dark Entertainment’s Cinderella, a pantomime for grown-ups. After Dark have been staging adult pantos at the theatre for six sell-out seasons. In Manchester, Contact Young Actors Company stage Advent Avenue, which director Paul Mayers describes as exploring the darker aspects of the festive period. “Everyone has a different version of Christmas. Some people feel lonely, some still feel the magic of it, some maybe feel that they return to being a child when they go and see their families,” he says. Just as an evening at the panto is a yearly must for many families, for many theatres it’s the few weeks of the year when Mother Goose lays the golden egg, as the takings can pay for an entire season – and there are many big commercial productions on offer. Manchester’s Opera House has Dick Whittington, a stray-to-superstar

tale with Ashleigh and Pudsey off Britain’s Got Talent; Ray Quinn – off The X Factor – stars in the lead role for Peter Pan at Liverpool Empire; and a touring arena version of Peter Pan visiting the Northwest stars Stacey Solomon off the Iceland adverts as Tinker Bell (except Stacey’s been forced to pull out of the Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle shows. But it should still be an epic aerial spectacular, with an epic price tag – tickets start at £20). Are there challenges to staging original work at Christmas, especially when competing with many Syco-approved commercial productions? Leach believes there’s enough space for both, but concedes there are obstacles. “I try to avoid casting known faces because I think it can sometimes draw attention from the story. I want

everybody to believe in that world, that story that we’re telling,” she says. “We’ve tried to make sure our version [of Robin Hood] appeals to what people think they’re going to see but also pushes them into rediscovering the story afresh, so they don’t think, ‘Oh, we might as well have just stayed at home and watched the Kevin Costner DVD.’” Wanted! Robin Hood, Quays Theatre, The Lowry, Salford, until 11 Jan, £11-£22.50 Zagmuth, The Lantern Theatre, Liverpool, 27-31 Dec, £10.50 (£8.50) Advent Avenue, Contact Theatre, Manchester, 12-14 Dec, £11 (£6). Read an interview with Contact Young Actors’ Company about Advent Avenue online at

Free P+P until 18 December / 15% off orders £20 or more / Use code THE SKINNY





Heart on a String

As international phenomenon War Horse comes to Salford’s Lowry, we ask why it’s taken the National Theatre’s blockbuster show to convince audiences of puppetry’s emotional power as an art form – and that it’s not just for kids


or some people, puppetry begins and ends with Hacker T Dog. Or, if you grew up in the 70s (guilty), Hartley Hare. Like colouring books and the dressing-up box, puppets are among the things we abandon after childhood. Puppetry’s origins go further back than the invention of television (3000 years, approximately): wire-controlled puppets have been unearthed in Egyptian tombs, and, in ancient Greece, productions of The Iliad were often staged with marionettes. Complexity of movement arrived far later, with the marionettes of 19th-century Italy progressing from two to eight strings; our own Mr Punch appeared around the same time, a derivation of the commedia dell’arte tradition. In spite of Punch’s anti-social tendencies – he’s a wife-killer who tricks the hangman into taking his place, and reneges on a pact with Satan – Punch and Judy shows thrive today, albeit in a sanitised form. Yet the common perception of puppetry as an entertainment primarily for children persists. Some West End shows have incorporated puppetry elements for a more grown-up audience – Shockheaded Peter and The Lion King being two fairly recent examples, with the former offering puppetry as bedtime nightmare, and the latter, puppetry as animal spectacle. Arguably, though, it’s taken the success of War Horse for theatregoers to realise how emotional puppetry can be. Since its premiere in 2007, the National Theatre production of Michael Morpurgo’s novel has been seen by over four million people, with the Broadway run bagging six prestigious Tony awards. It’s the story of a young boy called Albert and his beloved horse, Joey: requisitioned to fight for the English in World War I, and caught in enemy crossfire, Joey ends up serving on both sides. Albert, too young to enlist, embarks on a dangerous mission to find his horse and bring him home. The story reached an even bigger audience with the 2011 Steven Spielberg film adaptation, but while a strong seam of sentiment runs through the movie version of War Horse (for which criticising Spielberg seems pointless – clearly it’s what he loves to do), the stage show is a different beast. Thanks to the

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groundbreaking work of South African puppet company Handspring, the directors, Tom Morris and Marianne Elliott (a former associate director at the Royal Exchange), don’t need to try so hard. Handspring have been making puppet theatre for almost 30 years. There’s a fragile, human quality to their creations; they build puppets with a wide range of movement but only one facial expression, though that scarcely matters. In Or You Could Kiss Me (2010), two elderly South African men look for a way to say goodbye after a lifetime spent together. The simple act of one reaching across a table to touch the other’s arm becomes unbearably poignant.

“You have to learn how to pour your entire being into a mechanical object” Basil Jones

“Human puppets do something different,” explains Basil Jones, executive producer at Handspring, communicating from Cape Town via email. “They are metaphors for our struggle to live. And for the micro-struggles we have in our daily lives. Getting out of bed, sitting down in a chair... these ‘micro struggles’ are realised better by puppets acting as humans than by human actors themselves.” In the Japanese tradition of Bunraku, puppeteers would dress in black and disappear from view. With War Horse, there is no attempt to create an illusion of reality, as the puppeteers are visible beneath the animals’ skeletal, bamboo frames. “Puppetry is a highly skilled medium,” continues Jones. “You’re dealing with what amounts to an emotional prosthesis. You have to learn how to pour your entire being into a mechanical object, while at the same time reemphasising your own presence on stage... Three

puppeteers working together to manipulate one of the main animals in War Horse have to learn to coordinate their intentions and movements without speaking. This involves what we call ‘group mind’ – a bit like dancers have.” Matthew Forbes has worked with War Horse for four years as an actor and puppeteer, and has operated Joey’s head, Joey’s hind, and Baby Joey. He has also played the human role of Billy. Like Jones, he views acting and puppeteering as being of equal importance. “While working on the show, you become aware that the entire company of actors are puppeteers. If you don’t directly operate one of the horses, you are acting as a ‘fourth puppeteer.’ It is this role that adds the danger to the horses – it makes the audience believe they are true, living beasts.” This suspension of disbelief perhaps explains something about puppetry’s inherent magic; the audience are being asked to participate. “People sometimes refer to the show as poor man’s theatre – we have no fancy set, no glittery costumes,” Forbes says. “[But] because of this the audience is able to use their imagination to create the world of rural Devon and war-torn France... By letting the audience engage with the show, they get a deeper emotional involvement, similar to when you’re a child and a cardboard box becomes a spaceship. You become part of the story.” After its run at Salford’s Lowry, having become the venue’s best-selling show in its 13year history, War Horse moves on to the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh from 22 January to 15 February – coinciding with Puppet Animation Scotland’s Manipulate Visual Theatre Festival (31 Jan-8 Feb). Now firmly established as one of the highlights of Scotland’s cultural calendar, Manipulate is perhaps proof that interest in puppetry, which features prominently (though the brief has been widened to include animation, films and visual theatre), is on the rise. Highlights of the seventh festival include Polina Borisova’s Go!, which combines mime and physical theatre to explore the mind of an old woman retreating into the happier memories of her past; Stuffed Puppet Theatre’s Punch & Judy in


Interview: Steve Timms Illustration: Beth Crowley

Afghanistan does what it says on the tin; Tortoise in a Nutshell’s Grit also explores life in a conflict zone, using shadow puppets to examine the stories behind the lens of a dead war photographer; and there’s a masterclass from Mervyn Millar, who has enjoyed a long relationship with Handspring as associate puppetry director with War Horse. Manipulate artistic director Simon Hart (who confesses a childhood fondness for Captain Scarlet) is particularly excited about the return of the Editta Braun Company, with physical dance piece Luvos Planet – a sequel to 2012’s well received Luvos. “One of the most important threads running through all the theatrical work I choose for Manipulate is that the dramatic arc and narrative of a piece is driven by visual means,” Hart explains. “It’s not that I don’t programme pieces with words in them, but for me the visual elements are always the most significant, particularly because they so often create and sustain intriguing, non-linear narratives.” In Hart’s mind, understanding the precise meaning of a piece is less important than feeling some sort of emotional response. Puppetry’s contemporary influence is wider reaching than we might initially believe. Gaming technology continues to draw necessary knowledge from puppetry – when a programmer is creating a running action figure in Call of Duty: Ghosts, he needs to understand the fine detail of human physiology to make the movements look right – and Pixar animators work extensively with jointed figures to find and articulate fundamental insights into their characters. The seriousness of the art is perhaps best expressed by John Malkovich’s character in Being John Malkovich: he renounces acting for a new career as a puppeteer, reasoning that, “There’s the truth and there are lies, and art always tells the truth, even when it’s lying.” War Horse, Lyric Theatre, The Lowry, Salford, until 18 Jan, then 23 Jul to 20 Sep, £32-£50 Manipulate Visual Theatre Festival, 31 Jan-8 Feb



Fresh Meat In a forest in the Lake District a giant lactating worm has enslaved a town and is eating hitchhiking teenagers. Trickster Jamie Shovlin lets us see behind the scenes of his latest meta mind-fuck Rough Cut, a documentary about a film that never was

Interview: Jamie Dunn

ANGER,’ reads the sign outside an abandoned quarry in the Lake District, ‘KEEP OUT.’ It’s good advice, for inside that mine dwells a giant lactating worm with a taste for human flesh. But the warning’s not been heeded by a young couple, who are scrambling their way through its labyrinth of rock trying to find a safe path into daylight. They emerge out of the cave running through dust and falling debris. They’re bruised and battered. The girl is blond and beautiful, wearing cut-off denims and a plaid shirt tied at her midriff. The boy, in denim flares and purple T-shirt, is handsome and tanned, and is supporting himself on her arm. Then he slips, and a friendly cameraman throws him a hand. CUT! This is scene 71, slate four of Rough Cut, the latest film from Cornerhouse Artist Film, an innovative project based at the Manchester arthouse that supports in the producing, distributing and exhibiting of artists’ feature films. On the warm June day The Skinny visits the set, the film’s small crew are bleary-eyed. The night before, they were shooting an after-dark pursuit of the film’s heroine through woodland in the surrounding Grizedale Forest. It wasn’t the late night that made the shoot so arduous, though, it was the swarms of midges; the crew’s blotchy necks and faces are evidence of the insects’ handiwork. Luckily, today, the copious amount of SFX fog spewing from a smoke machine to add horror movie atmosphere seems to be keeping them at bay. The calm centre of this hustle and bustle is director Jamie Shovlin. The London-based artist, dressed all in black, cuts a rakish figure among his utilitarian crew, who move fast in wrapping up the scene, which turns out to be the final escape sequence. “It’s the first time I’ve done anything like this,” says Shovlin, during the lunch break at a nearby visitor centre. “That’s one of the challenges and the attractions of doing it, it’s entirely new territory – working with up to 30 people who need to understand what you want, and more often than not don’t.” It’s easy to understand why the crew are struggling to wrap their heads around his vision. The concept behind Rough Cut is multilayered and as slippery as an eel. The film’s genesis goes back to 2005, to a project between Shovlin and writer Mike Harte called Hiker Meat, which itself grew out of another installation, Shovlin’s notorious Lustfaust: A Folk Anthology 1976-1981, an exhibition celebrating the German group of the title. Why was this lovingly assembled collection of memorabilia relating to a krautrock band so notorious? Because it was about as genuine as a politician’s apology. Lustfaust, who Shovlin and Harte had exhaustedly documented, were fake. Hiker Meat is the 70s horror movie for which Lustfaust supposedly supplied the score. Harte, who named the film (it’s an anagram of his own name), outlined a 300-word plot, which concerns a group of horny campers gathered at a remote town, who are being picked off one-by-one by minions of the aforementioned lactating worm. At that point Shovlin and Harte actually considered making Hiker Meat as a way of adding more credence to the tissue of lies that was the Lustfaust project. Shovlin’s musician friend, Euan Rodger, would provide a Goblin-esque score. “Hiker Meat would become this thing that Lustfaust could do as a performing entity,” recalls Shovlin as he spears a piece of lemon cake with his fork. “So it was set up along those lines, but then we thought, What do we do with this film? Do we make an intentionally shit horror? The consensus



Rough Cut

was that we probably don’t, no one sets out to make a bad film, they just do it by accident.” They still needed Rodger to create a soundtrack, however; and he would need something with which to set his score. Shovlin’s solution was to piece together a “rough cut” of found footage. “I watched 400 to 500 exploitation films from, roughly, 1968 to 1988, which is kind of the ballpark that this film is pitched within, and collected scenes relating to these activities,” Shovlin reveals. Such is the derivative nature of horror, it was relatively easy to piece together an approximation of a narrative based on Harte’s initial story. “It’s a collection of clichés, or trademarks of the genre,” he explains. “You take a scene, say ‘girl walks into woods or boy enters cellar,’ and you’ll find hundreds of films with the same scene.”

props, costumes, etc. It was when the artist was in discussion with Cornerhouse about turning Hiker Meat into an installation that the idea of making a feature was raised. “Initially it seemed to me really illogical to submit this process to filmic form,” he says, “because it’s entirely about film but it’s all about the absence of film.” Slowly he came around, though. Shovlin realised that a documentary – or “metamentary” as he cutely describes it – about the making of a film that never existed would be the perfect form to describe Hiker Meat’s development. “We’d use this film as a kind of means by which to present almost an archaeology of knowledge and information as it transits through the first point we see it, the second point where Mike develops it, the point where I try and make a film from it, and all of the kind of limitations that entailed.” Shovlin’s finished product does many things. As well as documenting the journey of the Hiker Meat project, it also acts as a witty deconstruction of horror. Like the opening to François Truffaut’s quintessential film about filmmaking Day for Night, Rough Cut pulls back the curtain on Jamie Shovlin the filming process and shows how ridiculous it can be. “If you’re asking a girl, in a nightie, to run Shovlin’s horror-clip rough cut, though, was through the woods, at midnight, when it’s wet, and it’s covered in tics, and you’re just off camera never intended to be seen by the public. “It was always this thing that was a means to an end, and watching it” – as Shovlin had done on the previous night’s shoot – “you become really aware of functioned in this transitory way between Mike and Euan.” The central idea of the project, as with the absurdity of the act,” he explains. “That’s one of the things that just keeps jumping out at me: Lustfaust, was that there was “this hole in the all you need to do to dispel this horror is show centre of it, a hole that was filled by Hiker Meat, which was a thing that never existed but did exist the points just before action and just after cut and it all falls down.” in a kind of transitory form.” And, like Lustfaust, While the behind-the-scenes footage of the existence of Hiker Meat was supported by crew members larking around while they lube secondary material relating to the film: a poster,

“It’s all about the absence of film”


up the film’s latex monster takes the piss out of the genre, the film-within-the-film acts as loving homage. From the scenes Shovlin assembled on his original collage of horror clips, which incorporated classics of the genre, like Evil Dead and Friday the 13th, and less well remembered titles like Death Screams and The Deadly Spawn, his team have made convincing facsimiles. The 35-year-old clearly has affection for the halcyon days of the exploitation movie. “By and large, the subject matter in many of those films is awful,” he admits, “but there’s something in the collective endeavour – the kind of will of some strange guy in Tennessee who wants to make a film about a giant worm that lives in the Nevada desert and just finding a way of making it happen. “And I think that’s kind of more what this is about,” Shovlin continues, “that kind of nod towards that essence of working with people and taking on board everything good and bad that comes with that process.” Would Shovlin, then, like to see some sort of exploitation film renaissance? “It’s not that more people should be making films about giant lactating worms that live in mines,” he laughs. “I’m not sure if they should, but this idea of it not really mattering that you have much money, it not really mattering that you have very limited means to express things to the fullest potential; it’s the fact that you do anyway, and you do it well, and you incorporate all of the mistakes and necessary pratfalls. It seems like a much more humanistic way of making a... I won’t say a film, it could be any kind of collective project.” Rough Cut is released 6 Dec, and Jamie Shovlin’s Hiker Meat exhibition opens at Cornerhouse, Manchester on 17 Jan


Photo: Courtesy of Jamie Shovlin


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December 2013


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Unto the Breach No stranger to controversy, we ask Darren Cullen some probing questions about Join the Army, his inevitably divisive concertina comic on the horrors of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the shameless recruitment drives making them possible


he Skinny: Hi Darren. Could you start by telling us a little bit about the genesis of Join the Army? What was your initial idea? Was it always going to be a comic?

Darren Cullen: I’ve always been interested in army recruitment ads. The way they show military life as something between an adventure holiday and a computer game. The focus is on action and excitement. They never show a soldier lying in a cold ditch holding in his guts and crying for his mother. I liked the idea of taking the bombast of the adverts but switching the bullshit with something more resembling the actual, horrific truth. TS: The comic features a number of different elements on one side, most of it inspired by the army recruitment ads you mention. The message is clear enough, in that the armed forces deliberately lie to the young and vulnerable about the reality of life in these far off countries. Is this direct attack an attempt to engage with, and in a very public way, redress the balance of propaganda? DC: Yeah I think the fact that recruiters lie about what you’re signing up for is so obvious that you’d think it would hardly need stating. But the advertising budgets for these campaigns are astronomical and there’s almost nothing in the media that ever tries to redress the balance and tell the other side. You might have a few documentaries about military bullying or sexual assault, or the odd news report about soldier suicides. But our culture is so pro-military that it’s almost impossible to criticise any element of the armed forces without a disclaimer about the ‘fine work of our soldiers risking their lives… etc etc.’ The boundary for debate has been intentionally narrowed. Overall I didn’t want to make something that was just anti-war. That seems too easy. Obviously, war is the worst thing ever, according to everyone, surely, right? Some people who have never been anywhere near a war will disagree with that. But I thought it’d be more interesting to focus on recruitment, the carrots and sticks they use on innocent people to turn them into professional murderers. That they’re able to convince people to act so clearly against their own interests for such an ignoble cause is fascinating. TS: The reverse side is a horribly beautiful reworking of the Bayeux Tapestry, offering a brutal timeline of the Iraq war and its victims. What were you trying to achieve with this part of the

December 2013

comic and how does it relate to the other side? DC: I think the inside of the comic is generally sympathetic to the plight of soldiers, it’s about the reasons why you shouldn’t join if you enjoy having eyes and limbs. But I didn’t want to ignore that this is a multi-victim horror story. Being on the receiving end of the army is much worse than being inside it. So I wanted to show some of the civil cost, in terms of lives and destruction. But showing the Iraq war in the style of the Bayeux Tapestry was really about how imperial wars like this have been part of the English and British national stories from the very start. Holding up someone like Tony Blair as the reason we invaded Iraq ignores the wider historical context. These wars are what the UK does, all the time, and it will continue to do them as long as it has the power to do so.

“That the UK is one of the few nations in the world that still recruits 16 year olds is shameful” Darren Cullen

TS: I know that you had problems getting the thing printed at all. Why do you think this kind of work makes people feel uncomfortable? DC: The first two printers I think rejected for commercial reasons. They just didn’t want to take the chance that it might lose them a client. It’s lame, but that’s their prerogative. The last printer actually sent me a screed about why what I was doing was wrong, because these soldiers were out there fighting for my freedom. The irony of censoring me due to this seemed to have been lost on him. The military have done a good PR job of deliberately confusing individual soldiers with the institution of the military. So if you say something bad about either war or the army, people instinctively feel like, ‘how can you attack those poor boys?’ I think also that the public has a very

tenuous grasp on the moral justifications for invading Afghanistan and Iraq. Deep down I think that the majority of us know that the million plus people that have died as a result of these invasions is an absolute atrocity and we all share some responsibility for it. But we’d rather forget. We’ve been at war with two countries for over a decade now, but you wouldn’t know it by talking to people in the street. We don’t want to think about it. When we go to war these days it’s something that happens to other people. TS: What would you say to those that suggest your projects, like your Baby’s First Baby doll, are tasteless attempts at self-promotion, choosing subjects that you know to be controversial to gather press attention?

Interview: Ryan Rushton

purely for recruitment. They’re directly marketing war to kids, which is obscene. I tried to address this in the comic with a poster for Action Man: Battlefield Casualties. They’re toys which focus on what happens after the heroic battle – so there’s PTSD Action Man, Paralysed Action Man in a wheelchair and one in a body bag with a medal. This goes back to what you were saying about controversy. Some people will think these are offensive, but how can they be any more offensive than the fact the military are using toys to get children to grow up and have their legs blown off in some war? The reality is far worse than anything I could produce.

TS: The comic launched with an exhibition in London. What was the reaction there and more broadly? Has anyone been in touch to tell you DC: I don’t tend to choose the subject in advance. what they thought of it? I’d love to do something satirical about misogyny DC: The response was fantastic and no one tried or the NSA/GCHQ dystopian spying nightmare. I just haven’t had any ideas that are funny or could to physically attack me, which was a bonus. I know my mum was worried about that. A few exsay anything interesting about those things. If soldiers came to the show, Ben Griffin (ex-SAS I get an idea which ends up being controversial that’s usually a side-effect rather than the and paratrooper, now co-ordinator of Veterans intention and most of the time the subject I’m for Peace UK) and Joe Glenton (first soldier to criticising is far worse than anything I could think refuse to return to Afghanistan), both came of. The Baby’s First Baby doll was inspired in part down and it was great to know that even though by a pair of baby groom and baby bride dolls in I’m coming from a position of relative ignorance, Argos. That’s far worse than my doll, at least mine they both thought I’d hit the nail on the head. was intended as a piss-take, someone in a busiThey were saying that soldiers have a gallows ness actually thought two babies getting married humour about the job anyway, they’re more than was a good idea for a toy and went through with aware about the risks once they’re out there. It’s manufacturing and selling it to the public. usually civilians who take offence on their behalf over things like this. Like the few chumps from TS: Another story recently in the news was the the EDL who were giving me abuse online. publication of David Gee’s report, arguing that younger soldiers are more susceptible to PTSD TS: Finally, what’s next in the pipeline? I saw you and are targeted by the slick marketing employed had extended your Bayeux Tapestry idea to enby the forces. Do you believe the government has compass other armed conflicts Britain has been involved in. Is that kind of brutal narrative art a specific agenda when it comes to the recruitment of its youngest members? where you see your work moving? DC: I know for a fact they have an agenda! In the report the Ministry of Defence says it’s harder to recruit people over the age of 18 and that they ‘wish to recruit people before they have made other lifestyle choices.’ That the UK is one of the few nations in the world that still recruits 16 year olds is shameful. There’s also their official toy range, HM Armed Forces which are Action Man-style dolls, very realistic in every way, apart from not showing any of the actual effects of war on a human being. There isn’t a single reason the military should have its own range of toys. It’s


DC: I’m working on opening a pay-day loan shop that gives children an advance on their pocket money. Pocket Money Loans it’s called, and it’s going to have a pawn shop for exchanging your old toys. I think it might actually be illegal, I need to speak to a solicitor before I open for business. Join the Army can be purchased from for £7



The Cheat’s Guide to New Year’s Eve Where to head in Liverpool and Manchester to avoid breaking the bank, your resolve and your long-standing relationships


or us Brits, New Year’s Eve is a night of perennial anti-climax. We can all picture the scene: there’s the usual booze drought at the local offy, dealers are enjoying the festive season with their grandparents, booking a taxi becomes nigh on impossible, and so most of us end up staggering around on the street before getting into a shouting match over who hailed a passing cab first. This is all before 11 o’clock. Still, it’s infinitely better than being stuck in the house, waiting for Jools Holland to boogie-woogie his way through the countdown and sharing our first snog of the year with a leftover turkey sandwich. With that prospect in mind, why not cross arms, join hands and raise a cup of kindness with The Skinny as we serve up your best options for the most eagerly anticipated New Year’s Eve since this time last year. After the hoo-ha surrounding last year’s Albert Square firework display – funded by bighearted businessman Gary Gore (don’t let the villainous name deceive you) and his £20,000 horde of Catherine wheels and Roman candles – it’ll be interesting to see what Manchester City Council have planned for this year. Meanwhile, if you’re on the lookout for some good clean fun in Liverpool – yet keen to avoid a strained neck – then why not take that special someone to see the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra perform a medley of classic tunes from Hollywood repertoire (Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, from £17)? Showbiz is the order of the day: the glittering hit parade includes everything from Disney to Die Fledermaus, James Bond to John Williams, and Grammy Award winner Richard Kaufman will be making the trip over from California to conduct the show; he’s a bona fide Tinseltown big shot, having worked as Music Coordinator at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for nearly 20 years. For those more accustomed to the deviant side of jocularity, there’s a relative smorgasbord of clubland offerings designed to ring in



Words: Daniel Jones Illustrator: Lewis Loughman

2014 with sweaty aplomb. Over 2,000 revellers will cram into Manchester’s recently renovated Albert Hall to bear witness to the heavyweight American triumvirate of Frankie Knuckles, Marshall Jefferson and Todd Terry (£25). They join Haçienda legend Graeme Park for an evening of hijinks and debauchery in a converted chapel; even Bez gets a place on the bill as the night’s official ‘vibe provider’. Over at 2022NQ, another former Fac51 resident and acid house co-conspirator is on show in the form of Jon Dasilva. Penny-pinchers take note: £5 earlybird tickets are going like hotcakes. Alternatively, you may think it worthwhile to spend four times that amount in order to catch original garage head MJ Cole living it up in the Joshua Brooks basement (£15). Vibes all round. Club action in Liverpool sees Circus mainstay Lewis Boardman take the helm at The Shipping Forecast, again for the measly price of a fiver. He’ll be spinning alongside long-time label compatriot Scott Lewis. Elsewhere in the city, Chibuku join forces with Abandon Silence to take over East Village Arts Club. Details on the line-up are still unannounced as we go to print, but such undeniable promoting clout will surely deliver an enticing array of talented jocks – and again, for just £5. Back in Manchester, you also have the option of a Friendly Fires DJ set at Gorilla (£17.50). Support comes from yet another ex-Haçienda selector Dave Haslam, as well as notorious party starter Will Tramp! Gorilla are currently advertising their £150 ‘King Kong Package’, which includes a three-course meal, an access-allareas wristband and, ahem, a glass of Prosecco at midnight. Remake Remodel is back at The Ruby Lounge, promising an evening of all Kills no Killers (£5), and their drink offers look more promising than most. There are plenty of hiphop shenanigans to be had courtesy of Juicy, who’ll assuredly be going ham in the intimate

Roadhouse basement (£10) – or, you can get your gladrags on for the From Manchester with Love 12-hour shindig at Aura, which guarantees casino-inspired antics and champers by the bucketful (tickets start at £20).

“It’s infinitely better than being stuck in the house, waiting for Jools Holland to boogie-woogie his way through the countdown and sharing our first snog of the year with a leftover turkey sandwich” The Warehouse Project looks set to dominate NYE proceedings once again with an unnecessary amount of DJs playing for not very long each. James Zabiela, Tensnake, Pedestrian, PBR Streetgang and Waifs & Strays all feature,


alongside 22, yes, 22 other acts (£39.50). You do the math. The New Year’s Day bill is a tad more manageable, yet heavy on the back-toback front; Dixon & Ame, Ben UFO & Joy O, Paul Woolford & Midland, Jackmaster & Oneman all team up for your pie-eyed pleasure (£37.50). Elsewhere on 1 January, Venus bring in house edit supremo MK for their inaugural social of 2014 (£17.50), whereas South mark the first date on their brand new calendar with the prolific Darius Syrossian (£15) – but if you’re still geared up for round two, the best value for your buck is probably back down the M62 at the Kitchen Street pop-up party. A plethora of residents from some of Merseyside’s best selected clubnights – including mUmU, Hustle, Get Down and Shelter – will be playing 12 hours straight, from 2pm to 2am. Entry comes at the reasonable price of £7. Bargain. Of course, there are other New Year’s Eve choices if you wish to venture away from Manchester and Liverpool. Stockport hosts the Night Owl Soul Club at The Masonic Guild Hall, where there will be two rooms of Motown chart busters and Northern stompers – over 25s only (£7). Chorlton has the Prohibition Yuletide Party at The Nook, keeping the punters happy with 1920s swing and no door charge – and Knotty Ash’s Mecca Bingo hall welcomes awardwinning comedy group Schooner, with their variety of topical impressions and slick sketches. The £25 ticket apparently includes your transport home (though a phonecall is required for further details on that). Prudent. So there you have it – more than enough choices for your festive spirit to mull over. Whatever it is that you end up doing, have a very Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals, and, yes, a Happy New Year. Ticket prices are advance unless otherwise specified; some events may be more on the door


A Christmas Cocktail

ADVERTORIAL Whether you fancy a twirl on the ice rink or curling up by an open fire, with our guide to making the most of Spinningfields’ Snow Season you’ll soon have your winter jollies all wrapped up


ith the nights closing in and Jack Frost deciding to take up permanent residence in town, we take a trip through Spinningfields to discover the recipe for a merry December outing – turns out it involves giant pretzels and mulled versions of all our favourite tipples.

“An alternative to the usual office Christmas parties – and you can even get your skates on with ol’ St. Nick”

Munch your way through the Christmas Markets

Try dancing (or barely standing) on ice

Christmas is the perfect time of year to support local traders and artists and bag some unique gifts for your nearest and dearest in the process. On the run up to Christmas, more than 82 traders will be pitching up in the Christmas Market stalls dotted around Crown Square, on rotation every Friday, Saturday and Sunday so there’s always something new to discover. You’ll find everything from vintage gifts and sweet treats to local foodie delights and one-off artworks – plus, catering to our new-found love for gourmet street food served from vans and shacks, there's an array of pop-up street food vendors offering anything from Mumma Schnitzel’s crispy, panko-breaded chicken to classic winterwarmer drinks, including the Bombardino from Bitter and Twisted, a mix of hot eggnog and spiced rum topped with whipped cream and chocolate. Delish.

Whether you’re practically pro – or more at the step-slide-fall kinda level – no one can resist a glide around the ice at this time of year. The Spinningfields Ice Rink is a great choice for a first date, for bringing the whole family together or for an alternative to the usual office Christmas parties – and you can even get your skates on with ol’ St. Nick at one of the five Skate with Santa sessions. Each session lasts 50 minutes, which averages at around four arse-breaking falls for the novice skater (we joke!), and costs as little as £8 for off-peak skates, and £9 for peak times. We advise you wear big socks to keep your tootsies warm, and thick gloves to cushion those falls. And when you’re done bruising your bum, a trip to the recently opened Caffeine & Co. to sample their hot chocolate should thaw you out nicely.

Enjoy franks and steins at Bierhaus

Curl up by the fire at Hibernate

Catch a concert at The Oast House

Nestled at the foot of the candy-cane striped Helter Skelter – where kids and big kids at heart can get two rides for £2 – you’ll find Hibernate, which lends an air of aprés-ski chic to the whole Snow Season shebang. The pop-up bar is the perfect place to meet up and enjoy views of the ice rink while slurping down a wintery-spiced mulled cider, and is cosy in every possible sense of the word, with the interior evoking feelings of log cabins in the snow – all reclaimed wood, fur blankets, hot cocktails and a rustic food menu. Our top Skinny tip would be to soothe frozen noses and toes in a spot by the open fire.

A curious new structure has cropped up in the courtyard at The Oast House, luring passers-by in with the enticing smell of winter spice and open fires: The Rekorderlig Curious TeePee. Inside, you’ll find the ideal spot to rest your weary feet and enjoy a bite to eat from The Oast BBQ Menu, or the recently added Christmas Feast Menu; and you’ll find it especially hard to resist once you've seen one of their famous hanging kebabs leave the kitchen. Those in the mood for a festive sing-a-long can indulge their guilty pleasure every Thursday inside the TeePee, and if you’d rather watch someone else belt out the tunes, you can catch the Hallé Youth Choir perform in the courtyard (4 Dec and 11 Dec, 7pm, Free).

December 2013

Proving once again that the Germans have winter in the bag, the latest addition to the pop-up Long Bar, the Bierhaus, offers all the charm of a Bavarian beer hall, complete with franks, steins and pretzels bigger than your head. A peek through the window of Bierhaus reveals benches full of folk chomping down on giant frankfurter sausages, and glugging gargantuan steins of Kaltenberg Royal Lager. As the evening draws in, expect to hear live music from the Haus brass band, and some late-night sounds courtesy of the resident DJs. Hallé Youth Choir, The Oast House courtyard, 4 & 11 Dec, 7pm, Free Haus brass band, Bierhaus, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 8pm, Free Resident DJs, Long Bar, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 8pm, Free Spinningfields Ice Rink, until 5 Jan, various times and prices


Timecop: The Nativity Timecop Spurt Maximum fondly reminisces about travelling back to 0 A.D. to save the baby Jesus and punch Joseph in the balls


’ll tell you this; if I can’t go back to save her, this scumbag is not going back to steal money!” I screamed while climbing naked into the time rocket. “What the fuck are you talking about?” the chief shouted. “Are you drunk?” If by ‘drunk’ he meant ‘filled with revenge,’ then yes. And if by ‘revenge,’ he also meant whisky, then DOUBLE YES. “DOUBLE YES!” I shouted, catching my balls in the seatbelt thingy. “Senator Aaron McComb has gone back in time to Jesus’s birthday, to steal all his presents to sell on space-eBay. And I’m going to fucking stop him, hard.” “Oh for God’s sake, Spurt. Why are you naked?” “You have to be naked to travel through time,” I snarled, pulling my scrotum from the cup holder. “It’s the rules. Like not having sex with your own mum, or touching yourself in the Wild West.” “Spurt,” he pleaded, “You’re not well. Just climb down from there and we’ll get a janitor and a mop.” “CATCH YOU LATER, FUCKER!” I punched the ‘travel through time button’ and vanished. According to my Bible and my Quantum Leap activity book, the year was 0 A.D., and I was exactly in Bethlehem. I’m Spurt Maximum: TIMECOP, and I’m heading back to the birth of Jesus to see how many spinning leg-kicks are needed to get the revenge out of a mad-man’s face. Statistically, it’s seven, but I’m a Timecop, not some fruity calculator scientist. Time travel is not as complicated as everyone thinks; I arrived, as usual, in an exciting



Words: Fred Fletch Illustration: Oliver Ninnis

explosion of time-lightning and regular lightning. Judging from the crater full of charred donkeycarcass I was standing in, the time jump had been totally successful. “I hope none of you guys had an important role to play in the future!” I laughed, not knowing that I had inadvertently averted the 2013 Horsemeat Lasagne Crisis. As the smoke cleared, I observed that I was standing naked in front of a stable. Half the front wall was missing due to some shitlord crashing their time rocket into it. As I assessed the carnage, I noticed a man and woman a few feet away from the glowing remains of the Hadron Collider that had fallen off my ship. They were cowering behind a cow feeder with a baby in it. “HA HA!” I laughed, trying to lighten the mood. “This place is a fucking shit-hole. Nothing says ‘the birthplace of man’s salvation’ like the inescapable smell of paternity tests and animal faeces. Did you book this on Groupon?” The couple stared wordlessly at me. The baby started crying. Apparently Away in a Manger was bullshit, and I made a mental note to stop in the 60s to punch Bing Crosby in the butthole. The woman started crying. Things were getting awkward; I needed to blend in. Time-coppery requires quick thinking, huge balls and a GCSE in History. I had two out of three. “Oh don’t mind me,” I said confidently. “I’m not from the future or anything. I’m just Spurt Maximum; a shepherd, who was totally at the birth of Jesus,” and I did a sweet judo somersault to convince them. The man cautiously approached me with his hands raised. “I’m sorry. I don’t know who you are, or why you’re not wearing any clothes, but my wife’s just

had a baby. It’s late, she’s tired and we’d prefer a little privacy.” “OH SHIT!” I said, “YOU’RE JOSEPH?” “Um, yes,” he said, perplexed. “HA HA. Sorry to hear about the whole ‘God fucked your wife’ thing.” Enraged, Joseph threw a punch so weak, the air around it sued his fist for sexual harassment. “I’m just kidding!” I explained, still laughing. I stepped neatly to the side and bumped into three men dressed as the Burger King. They were adorned with jewels and fine silks and were laden with parcels in decorative paper and bows. They surveyed the scene in silent awe. “We have come to pay tribute to the King of Kings,” said the first guy. “And we bring gifts for the child who will save us all,” said the one next to him. “And I’ll just take them all and put them in the back of my hover-bike for safe keeping,” said the third guy in the space helmet. “Nice try, Senator Aaron McComb!” I yelled, tearing a fake beard from the front of his helmet. “Your disguise was almost perfect, but you forgot one thing...” I punched him in the throat. “TIMECOPPED!” “CURSE YOU, SPURT MAXIMUM!” Senator Aaron McComb hissed. “You’ve meddled in my schemes for the last time!” Grabbing baby Jesus from the manger, McComb drew a laser gun and pointed it at the infant’s head. “NOBODY DO ANYTHING STUPID, OR JESUS DIES.” ‘Don’t do anything stupid’ is jiu-jitsu for ‘absolutely do a somersault,’ so I even more absolutely did. Pivoting gracefully over the panicking villain, I landed behind him in karate-stance and


Spacejammed Jesus from his grip. With the son of God safely spinning 16 feet above the battle, I engaged McComb in a series of genital punches so savage, 3108 years in the future, his great-greatgreat-great-great-great grandson was staring at his slowly vanishing hand. With McComb swiftly crippled, I smoothly caught Jesus safely in my arms. As I stood triumphant in the smouldering remains of the stable, the still shaking Joseph approached me. “Seriously. I really don’t understand what just happened here, and I don’t want any more trouble, but could you PLEASE LEAVE?” Nervously he reached to take the son of God away from me. Baby Jesus smiled. “BLOOOO WAH,” he gurgled. “What’s that, baby Jesus?” I replied, “You want me to punch this guy in the dick-hole as well?” “W-what?” stammered Joseph. “That’s not what he said...” “Get used to it, asshole. Years from now EVERYONE is going to be totally misinterpreting the shit he said.” As I began to do the splits, another bolt of lightning shook the stable. The wall and three more donkeys exploded as the car from Knightrider emerged through a time vortex. Still glistening from the moist embrace of time travel, Teen Wolf emerged shirtlessly from the front seat of KITT. “SPURT!” Teen Wolf howled, “Moses and the slaves need your help; do you happen to know anything about fighting unkillable Karate Mummies?” “DO I?” I smiled, and punched Joseph in the cock.


Retro Fetishism

Interview: Daniel Jones

Gerd Janson


erd Janson must get up very early in the morning. How else can a guy simultaneously run one of the most consistent labels on the planet and hold down a residency at revered Frankfurt hotspot Robert Johnson, let alone continue to produce muscular house hammers as one half of Tuff City Kids? Not only that, he still finds time to pen in-depth discussions for prominent German mags like Spex and Groove, and to lend his encyclopaedic dance music knowledge to the Red Bull Music Academy every now and then. It’s a mystery how this rangy approach does nothing to diminish the calibre of his output. We hate to speculate but there’s a definite chance that he’s keeping an identical twin on the d-low. There could even be a third Janson involved. For somebody who remains active in so many elements of the industry, it’s quite strange to hear how quick the boss of Running Back is to downplay his musical credentials. “I’m not a musician,” Janson says, speaking on the blower from his home in Lorsch. “I can’t read or write music. Maybe I’m a nerd who isn’t too nerdy. The people and artists who I hold in high regard have a definite musical ear; they can play an instrument, or they know chords and scales. I can only tell you what I like and what I don’t like. A lot of DJs over-emphasise their importance or skill, when, in truth, anybody can do it. There should still be a hierarchy in that sense, especially when you look at people like Maurice Fulton or Morgan Geist. They’re the type of guys who make you take a step back and really check yourself.” Despite Janson’s confessed lack of musicality, Tuff City Kids – his project with good friend Phillip Lauer – have been flourishing in the studio. Recent EP Roby Tease sees the duo test their peak-time powers for Delsin with three tracks of bracing techno. “We started working together in 2008 following a remix request from Sonar Kollektiv,” he recalls. “One thing led to another and, looking back, the original 12”s that we’ve put out in the past two years are by-products from

December 2013

Europe’s most intimate venues. “The club itself is a lot like pasta,” he says. “The recipe is so simple and so tasty that when it’s done right you can’t ask for more. Of course, some people have different tastes and expect fireworks and bikinis from a night out. All Robert Johnson needs is a decent sound system, a wooden floor and a balcony to watch the sunrise. There’s not a mechanical bull in sight.” It was actually who Hammann – also an avid American footballer – proposed the name Running Back in the formative days of the label. “I wanted to call it Penguin Records,” reveals Janson, his voice carrying a slight tinge of disappointment, “but the book company proved to be an obstacle. I liked the idea of Running Back; it satisfies whatever kind of retro fetishism is the order of the day. American literature is a personal passion of mine, particularly authors like Philip Roth and Thomas Pynchon. “Whatever artistic path you choose to go down, whatever you create, you are always being influenced by other arts and cultures that you Gerd Janson identify with. I don’t expect people to go back and seek out all the references. It’s not always a conscious process. I don’t necessarily sit down Given Janson’s natural modesty and easyto write a tech-house ode to Thomas Pynchon going mentality, it comes as no surprise that the but often a name or phrase from one of his books majority of his collaborations frequently come appears in my mind and I will end up using that to fruition. After all, it was teaming up with anas an inspiration for a track, not fully realising other old pal and “DJ mentor” Thomas Hammann until afterwards.” that led to the acclaimed Liquid parties at Robert Of all his numerous creative endeavours, Johnson. “The ethos was always about not taking Running Back is certainly Janson’s most fullymyself too seriously; that’s the bottom line with fledged brainchild. The imprint was initially any of my projects. I don’t want to be a clown intended as a vehicle for co-founder Thorsten but I can appreciate a good joke. Thomas actuScheu’s throwback Jersey-style alias, Second ally got approached by Ata – the first captain of Life. Sporadic local releases followed until Scheu the good ship Robert Johnson – and asked me to decided to throw in the towel, forcing Janson come along with him. We’ve been part of the fam- to reach out beyond his corner of Southwest ily ever since.” Germany. “The first Mark E record was vital beOver the past 15 years, the converted rowing cause it was the first time I worked with someclub, located in a no-frills suburb of Frankfurt, body outside of the Frankfurt-Heidelberg area. has steadily built a reputation as one of Western Following that, RB012 with Matt (Radio Slave)

our time in the studio when we were making all those edits. Moving forwards, we have started making stuff completely from scratch. “There’s no question that, musically, Phillip is one hundred times more talented than I am, but we do have a good understanding. Basically, it’s nice to sit behind him sipping coffee while he does most of the work! No, we do have a backand-forth relationship, but I would say my skill is in arrangement. I have to keep his noodling in check, too; that’s my other purpose,” he chuckles.

“I don’t necessarily sit down to write a tech-house ode to Thomas Pynchon”


was the first time I really experienced selling a record. That’s something you can never truly prepare for. I don’t want to use the term ‘hit’ but it proved to be another massive step in the label’s direction.” Since 2006, Running Back has rapidly compiled a roster of substantial quality, providing a stable excursion for a long list of heavyweight producers: Theo Parrish, Smallpeople, Move D and Todd Terje have all donated EPs to the cause thus far. The forthcoming Tiger & Woods LP will be the latest addition to the catalogue. “My instinct tells me to reach RB100 then stop,” says Janson. “I’ll always try to diversify but there will always be a club element to our music. Never say never, but I’d never release a noise record. When you’re running an independent label you have every right to be selfish in that respect. Go with your gut as much as possible.” Ahead of his date at The Warehouse Project this month under the Bugged Out! banner, Janson is also keen to detail his fondness for Manchester’s musical history. “The city has always been a destination of longing for club enthusiasts, right from the early Factory days, to the Electric Chair parties, to now. The Smiths were a big part of my teenage years too. I’ll have to see what room Warehouse stick me in, but I imagine I won’t be playing so much disco, B-sides and rarities. Although I can’t stop myself from pulling the Justin Van Der Volgen edit of Alexander Robotnick’s Undicidisco out of my bag right now. I might have to” – he pauses to formulate the right phrase – “cut my own hands off.” We sincerely hope that Gerd has all of his limbs attached when he touches down on Mancunian soil on 6 December. In the meantime, why not whack on his supreme Nachtdigital set, flick on your bedside strobe and give Gravity’s Rainbow a go. Gerd Janson plays The Warehouse Project, Manchester, 6 Dec, and Plastic People, London, 3 Jan



Photo: Dan Wilton

Ahead of his date at The Warehouse Project this month, Running Back boss Gerd Janson talks Tuff City Kids and the influence of Thomas Pynchon

Nick Cocozza

Merry Christmas!

Alice Tobia

Every year, the Showcase invites artists and illustrators to send us a card they’ve made for you, dear readers. Now bring us some figgy pudding

Sophie Freeman 28

Jock Mooney

Aliyah Hussain SHOWCASE


David P Scott

Heather More

Caroline Dowsett

Darren Cullen

December 2013


Rachel Davey


All I Want For Christmas Is... Photography: David Anderson Styling: Alexandra Fiddes This page (clockwise from top left): Cyan Wallet by Coccinelle at Covet,, £85 Grey Birdy Bow Tie by Fiona Heather,, £30 Phone Case by Skinnydip London, (also available at River Island), £18 Blue Cut Collar by Steph Parr at GSA,, £40 Coin Pouch by Adrian Baird Bathan at Concrete Wardrobe,, £11.50 Triangle Earrings by Lucie Ellen at The Red Door Gallery,, £8.50 Sky Blue small pouch by Coccinelle at Covet,, £40 Ad Astra Drop Pendant by Patience Jewellery,, £390

Opposite (clockwise from top): Herringbone Scarf by Edition Scotland,, £149 Icon Bangle by Patience Jewellery,, £450 White Cut Collar by Steph Parr at GSA,, £40 Small Duffle Bag by Laura Spring,, £95 Pink Pom Pom Phone Charm by Skinnydip London,, £6 Carrot Etui Make-up Bag by Smaak at Covet,, £35 Phone Case by Skinnydip London,, £18





December 2013




Art of Africa We talk to Rocca Gutteridge about grassroots arts trust 32º East and the changes taking place in the art scene in Uganda


he spotlight has turned on African art in recent months. In June, the Gold Lion for Best National Participation at the Venice Biennale was awarded to Angola, only the second African nation to receive that accolade. Over the summer, ‘Father of African modernism’ Ibrahim El-Salahi and Benin artist Meschac Gaba both had major shows in Tate Modern, Gaba presenting his Museum of Contemporary African Art, a fiction created, ironically, to combat the lack of opportunities for African artists in the European art world, now purchased by the British institution. In October the 1:54 Art Fair pitched up in London, presenting a Frieze-style exhibit aiming to commercialise the continent’s product while introducing a British audience to the breadth of practice emerging from 54 different African nations. In November, an art auction in Nairobi presented the work of artists from Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Sudan and Uganda to predominantly local buyers, also tempting a raft of major players from institutions including the Tate and Bonhams to fly in and buy up works for public and private collections in the West for record prices. “I think the art scene is shifting – it’s not just about Europe anymore, and I think people will look to Africa and they’ll re-look at how they used to see African art. I think that’s already happening. I think people will be embarrassed at how they used to look at it, or forget that they ever saw it as exotic or Picasso-esque.” Rocca Gutteridge is in a fair position to comment on this cultural explosion. In 2011 she and colleague Nicola Elphinstone co-founded 32º East | Ugandan Arts Trust, an ambitious project in the capital Kampala which aims to incubate the formation of a contemporary art scene in an environment not previously used to the conventions of the international art world. It’s an incredibly contentious notion, one that meets near constant challenges and criticism – on the one hand there is the legacy of the colonial past, and the risk of the imposition of a western perception of what constitutes Art. On the other, a world where Africa equates to aid, and art equates to first world frippery with no place in an environment where survival is presumably the only right allowed to the grateful populace. 32º East has a different aim. A complex including studios, project spaces and a resource



Interview: Rosamund West

centre, it offers an environment to create, with an emphasis on art-making as a conversation, a process of experimentation and a means of expression, rather than a finished product to be appraised, bought and sold. Rocca explains, “I feel the world needs less art but more artists. It’s about being part of a community of thinkers and people who want to speak their minds. I love chatting to people here and watching people walking into our centre and sit around talking, or just going for a beer. It is really important because, on one level, it wasn’t long ago that people were targeted for being artists. And yet people here still need to make art, they still want to make art; even if they don’t know why.”

“The art scene is shifting – it’s not just about Europe anymore” Rocca Gutteridge

The spectre of government repression is a sensitive one in a nation where, for example, it is illegal to be gay. The lack of government support for the arts in Uganda makes it difficult for artists to feel supported and respected locally – many have started to voice their opinions through their work. “That’s when it becomes really exciting, when artists suddenly have this voice. But we have to negotiate these spaces really carefully. We have to watch how we work because there has to be a level of respect within the context in which we are working.” Previous projects include the inaugural Kampala Contemporary Art Festival in 2012 (KLA ART 012) which saw 12 shipping containers installed in locations throughout the city as flexible project and exhibition spaces. “The idea was that the artists would somehow respond to the idea of the shipping container looking at travel or consumerism or movement, or just the object itself.” The choice of shipping containers is key, as they form a familiar fixture in the Kampala environment, often housing shops. One, by the

with the 50th anniversary of independence almost ended badly. “In two and a half minutes there were riot police, trucks, tear gas. Luckily it didn’t kick off but it definitely made me think this isn’t all happy happy fun; it just flipped in an instant. “Contemporary art isn’t mainstream and accepted here, so trying to explain what the performance was about caused confusion – the police were concerned that it was the start of a public gathering. There can be a lot of negative feeling towards crowds as they sometimes lead to riots and uncontrollable situations. It’s disappointing for the artists because they just want their work to be seen, but I believe this will come with time.” Next year will see the second staging of KLA ART, details still in the planning stages. Another imminent project involves artwork being displayed on the back of boda-bodas, the local motorbike taxis. “We’re always looking at new ways to not just produce art in our art centre, but how to expose it, how to get it out onto the street or absorbed into people’s consciousness in fun, engaging ways. “It’s all about growing this scene as a network. It’s really important we don’t just expose RONEX the odd sort of superstar artist, that we really build an art scene because that’s where it becomes exciting. We’re in the middle of huge artist Ronex Ahimbisibwe, placed by a railway planning meetings because what we do at the line near the entrance to a ghetto community proved a particular draw. “I think because it was moment is really production, but in the next two years we’re driving plans to build an exhibition a shipping container people were like ‘Oh, it’s a and project space which will allow artists to show shop, what’s going on?’ So they engaged with it, and sell work. It’ll be not-for-profit; any commiswith that initial attraction. But then when they sion will got back into the organisation, the artstepped in and realised what was happening in ists feeding theart centre.” that shipping container, it was this crazy art in32º East has aims that are simultaneously stallation, there was this kind of double layer of confusion, you know, why are you using shipping very grand and very humble. On one level, to create the foundations for a grassroots arts scene containers not to sell in but to show art?” is a huge undertaking. On the other, they just Another installation by multimedia artist Xenson garnered much praise and ultimately the want to make a space for people to talk about their ideas and experiment. Ultimately, it is far KLA ART audience award – he’s now installed in removed from the fêting of African art going on 32º East on a three month residency, creating back in London. a new body of work to be displayed at their end Rocca ponders the situation, gazing back of year show in December. “His piece was really at the British art world from the distant remove radical; it’s been written about by people like of Uganda. “When the British art scene’s focus Sidney Kasfir [a scholar of African art]. He used shifts it always seems to be done first of all in jerry cans, set up to look like they were exploding out of this container; it was about the horrific a commercial way. In one way it’s really exciting pollution that’s happening in this channel in because of the opportunities that creates but in Kampala due to mass import of plastic products. others you’re seeing sort of watered down versions of what’s happening here on the ground What he did was so public in addressing a real being exported to London and then accepted. concern of his so close to the parliament, the local council buildings, and that doesn’t happen And actually what’s happening here is so much more exciting.” here. So his was quite a revolutionary piece of work. It made people excited.” 32º East Open Day, 7 Dec An offsite performance project from the KLA ART, Oct 2014 festival involving doling out coffee beans – a cal gesture of brotherhood – which coincided




Burlesque and Campaigning Burlesque star Sukki Singapora considers how the performance art is perceived in her home country of Singapore and in Britain


urlesque is changing. From its grassroots of comedy, satire and parody, we now embrace the vaudeville, striptease, cabaret and a variety of performance, freely expressing existential realities through candid observations and shared life experiences. Burlesque has become a community, a platform for freedom of expression and freedom of identity, and a network of creativity promoting ‘DIY’ ethics (despite being oversaturated at times, with too few opportunities to showcase performers). However, with the gross misconception that burlesque is stripping, the term has often been breathed in the same breath as women’s rights, feminism and censorship. The bodystocking-clad striptease artists of Victorian Britain caused a stir and brought into question the decency and validity of this ‘performance art’ – and even now, with the broader understanding in what is a far more sexually liberated and open-minded society that burlesque does not revolve on the racy axis of sex or nudity, we still find some local organisations squirming at the thought of ‘hosting’ a burlesque event in council-owned premises. Earlier this year, Hebden Bridge made national news – causing international waves – in the burlesque world when Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival organiser Heidi Bang Tidy presented a petition to Hebden Royd council against its Picture House venue sub-committee’s decision to disassociate itself from burlesque on the grounds that it raises issues of gender equality, and many people feel it is demeaning to women. While visiting Manchester for Vogue’s Fashion Night Out in October, I asked Northwestbased burlesquer and equality campaigner Sukki Singapora how she approaches the challenges of finding platforms for her work both here and in her childhood homeland of Singapore. Sukki describes a Singapore with an underlying patriarchal political system and cultural norm, where to be free as a woman more often than not doesn’t have the same meaning as to be free as a man. “Unfortunately, this underlying inequality isn’t unique to Singapore,” she says – and we explore how her experiences of growing up as a young creative mind in Singapore are different from her ongoing UK-based creative nurturing process. She tells me that in Singapore it was extremely difficult to express her creativity or individuality. She believes there’s a fear to speak one’s mind – though this is dressed as a respect for elders – particularly if that goes against the grain of cultural norms. By contrast, living in the UK as a young

Interview: Jessica Walsh

adult, she found an outlet where she could explode creatively. Discovering burlesque through her love of vintage culture and fashion allowed her to express herself for the first time – and Manchester was the location for one of her debut performances. “There is such a supportive and diverse burlesque and alternative scene here, I always enjoy performing in Manchester,” she says. Yet what Sukki thought was a personal discovery in the UK was actually being watched back in Singapore by many interested eyes. After receiving hundreds of inspiring messages from a plethora of Singaporean women and men, she founded a secret burlesque society in Singapore, which she describes as “a safe haven and confidential group for all, to practise and perform without the fear of consequence.” Her society and the campaigning behind it has attracted the attention of Asian women’s rights campaigners, and, this year, Sukki made history as the first burlesquer to be invited to Buckingham Palace in celebration of her work.

“There are many who think I am trying to ‘westernise’ my fellow women of Singapore” When it’s suggested that burlesque has been something of an empowering experience for her – and when she’s asked if this message of empowerment through burlesque is key to her campaigning – Sukki shudders at the use of the term empowerment, explaining that there is a difference between empowerment and confidence, and that ‘empowerment’ is losing the weight of its meaning in relation to those who have truly been disempowered, repressed or disabled from existing with their own thoughts, views and opinions. She believes this is due to the word’s overuse, in particular with reference to sexual liberation and gender roles. Sukki describes how, on her last visit to Singapore, where she modelled for a lingerie photo shoot, she risked a public flogging for

Sukki Singapore

indecency. “There are many who think I am trying to ‘westernise’ my fellow women of Singapore and in doing so, I am ‘spoiling’ them,” she says. Yet, Sukki speaks passionately – and I ask her if it’s possible for one person to make such a difference in the face of such adversity. Pointing out that it would indeed be easier to give up her campaign, she recalls – with emotion – some of the hundreds of letters and emails that she has received from men and women relating what a

Christmas Communities M

any of the clubs, pubs and bars around Manchester’s Canal Street will be closed on Christmas Day, though there are still some places providing a warm and welcoming space for those spending the day alone this year. New York New York on Bloom Street is open. Manager Zoe says: “On Christmas Day a lot of the gay community don’t go home to their families, so this is their own little Christmas. It’s a brilliant night.” She says that last year a lot of staff from other venues in the Village came to New York New York to spend 25 December. They’re planning to open ‘til 4am this time around. Icon on Richmond Street will also be open, for the third year in a row. Phil, one of the managers, says: “Not everyone has the best reception

December 2013

to coming out so we like to have somewhere that people can go to if they’ve been disowned, or rejected from their families.” There won’t be any rejection from St Chrysostom’s, either. An Anglican church in Victoria Park, they hold an LGBT Communion on the first Saturday of each month. As well as services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, they will be holding some prayers on 21 December for those who find Christmas an especially difficult time. Revd Canon Ian Gomersall, the rector, says: “Our church is noted for being LGBT friendly and LG people are in positions of authority within the church. At St Chrysostom’s all worship is inclusive, and all are welcome.” In Liverpool, there’s a sense of Christmas

not being so much of a community affair. At The Masquerade Bar on Cumberland Street, assistant supervisor Pauline explains that they used to open for Christmas but don’t anymore. She can’t think of anywhere that will be open in the Stanley Street Quarter, saying: “It’s like a ghost town on Christmas Day.” Eileen, manager of The Lisbon on Victoria Street, echoes this sentiment. She says she tried opening on Christmas Day, but it just wasn’t financially viable. Although, she adds: “I opened one Christmas Day and I had a bunch of German tourists come in. They’d seen the light outside and just followed it in like a star.” One thing that is happening in Liverpool is a Christmas party on 20 December at G Bar on


difference burlesque is making to their lives, and encouraging her to spread the word of this creative platform. “I keep these letters in mind when I face adversity,” she says, “and think, ‘why should we pick the easy option, when forging the harder path has such importance to the lives of many?’”

Interview: Ana Hine Eberle Street. Back in Manchester, while it’s not open for Christmas Day, The Molly House will be serving mulled wine and cider on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, calling them ‘winter warmers’. And though nowhere in the Village is offering a Christmas Dinner on the day itself, Eden Bar, Via and Taurus (which does a rabbit starter) will all be open on Christmas Eve serving three and four course dinners. Via is also open on Boxing Day, as is G-A-Y and the lesbian club Vanilla, and many of the Liverpool clubs, including Baa Bar on Victoria Street, are open on 26 December, too – so there’s no reason to be on your own this Christmas.






The Bay Horse opened in 2004, and nearly ten years on is still going strong! Our original concept of a cool local with good music and good food has never changed, and Sundays are a great way for us to showcase this. Head Chef Ricky’s locally sourced menu includes our classic Sunday Roast with all the trimmings (including veggie options), and music is provided by Sunday Sessions with live artists playing jazz, blues, acoustic, indie and spoken word on the first Sunday of every month, plus Phonography with DJs Peter Jay, Steve Legatto and Baggy playing vinyl only on the second, third and fourth Sundays of each month.

correctly answer the following question: How many times did legendary thoroughbred racehorse Red Rum win The Grand National? A) Three B) Five C) Seven Entrants must be 18 or over. Competition closes midnight Sun 5 Jan. Winners will be notified via email within two working days of closing and will be required to respond within 48 hours or the prize will be offered to another entrant. Full terms and conditions can be found at

The Bay Horse is giving away Sunday Lunch for two each month for the whole of 2014 – that’s 12 free meals on us for one lucky winner!

For more information about The Bay Horse:

To be in with a chance of winning, simply head over to and

Twitter @TheBayHorsePub

The Bay Horse , 35-37 Thomas Street, Northern Quarter, M4 1NA Phone: 0161 661 1041


Over the past decade Glasgow Film Festival has blossomed into one of the UK’s favourite film events. A packed 2014 programme includes popup cinema and special events in unique Glasgow venues, ensuring that the Festival presence is felt in every corner of the city. The Festival embraces cinema without prejudice or boundaries to create an event that has something for everyone. We are 10 this year! Join us in Glasgow from 20 February to 2 March 2014, and help us celebrate! Tickets go on sale on Friday 24 January. To be in with a chance of winning four tickets to Glasgow Film Festival screenings, plus an overnight stay for two in Novotel on Saturday 22 February 2014, simply head over to theskinny. and correctly answer


the following question: In what year did Glasgow Film Festival start? A) 2004 B) 1939 C) 1974 D) 2005 Subject to availability, standard-priced tickets only. Terms and conditions apply. Competition closes midnight Sun 5 Jan. Winners will be notified via email within two working days of closing and will be required to respond within 48 hours or the prize will be offered to another entrant. Full terms and conditions can be found at about/terms For more information about Glasgow Film Festival: For more information about Novotel:


Cheer and Present Danger

Christmas is a difficult time laden with expectations, greed, and roasted meat. We don’t intend to make it any easier in our precisely half-serious food and drink gift guide with a title borrowed from Farmville

BOOZE Start as you mean to go on, eh? In the festive season you can’t move for boozy gift packs ready to fling in one of those horrible bags people use when they can’t be arsed to wrap a present properly, but we’re here to recommend the classier of the boozy gift packs. The Mint Julep Gift Pack from Buffalo Trace fits the bill – it contains a bottle of bourbon and a steel julep cup. The metal cup is key here, allowing the recipient to kick back like a true Southern gentleman, cooling themselves with their beverage and calling passers-by ‘boy’ for no good reason. Various stockists, from £23, deckchair and preposterous accent sold separately. But what if your gift target isn’t refined? What if they’re a shouty, boorish, unsubtle headcase who likes skulls and Ghostbusting and ROCK? You get them the Rolling Stones edition of Dan Aykroyd’s brand of vodka. The Crystal Head Vodka 50th Anniversary Rolling Stones Limited Edition gift set is a real thing that exists, containing a glass skull full of vodka with a Rolling Stones-branded crystal top, a live Stones album, and a display box with a zip on the front. It’s garish and a little bit creepy, there are giant cartoon tongues all over it, and it’s endorsed by a Ghostbuster. The three wise men must be spinning in their graves., £90 TEA AND COFFEE A well-chosen gift here will see the recipient view you as some kind of benevolent god who brings light and goodness to their mornings. Going with an elaborate and slightly over-involved tea or coffee gift adds to the effect, so go for something like the Magic Tea Press from Edinburgh tea merchants Eteaket. It’s a mini loose leaf teapotslash-magic trick, with the tea dispensing from the bottom into a mug of your choosing. Your

Words: Peter Simpson Illustration: Heather More

friends and family will see the tea, and see that it is good., £19 For the coffee lovers, a Brew Kit from Machina Espresso can bring café-quality coffee, and all its intricacies, into your tiny kitchen. A grinder, pot, and filter mug are all included, leaving you to wrap it all up and decide whether or not to give instructions on how it all works. See how you feel on Christmas morning. Machina Espresso, £55 Of course, the True Hot Drinks Elite will already own these devices, and demand more from their presents. Two words: WiFi kettle. Three more words: in-car espresso machine. The WiFi Kettle works in tandem with your smartphone, letting you start the boil from anywhere in your home; still needs you to fill it with water though, so it’s literally pointless., £99 The Handspresso Auto plugs into the cigarette lighter of your motor car and pumps out rich, full-bodied espresso. If you want to give someone the chance to burn themselves in a particularly pungent way this Christmas, look no further., £139 KITCHENWARE What to get the sibling who likes to cook? A spoon? Seems a bit meagre. A large spoon? Might come over a bit sarcastic. A set of spoons? What if they only make oriental food, and have no need for spoons? The key is to go for something safe, practical, but with a fun twist. Something like a Peanut Butter Maker. Peanuts go in, unspecified food technology does its thing, peanut butter comes out. Vats of the stuff, from the images we’ve seen. It’s the perfect present, unless the intended recipient doesn’t like peanut butter, in which case you’ll get to keep hold of it. It really is the perfect present., £45

PETS There’s only one option for those of you who

buy presents for your dogs – the Doggie Biscuit Maker. Yes, it’s a dedicated kit for making your own dog biscuits! It has little moulds and shapes and everything! Use all the ingredients dogs love, like marrow and offal! Get your hands right in that offal! Sculpt the offal! Don’t put it away, that’s the dog’s present! Remember kids, whatever you happen to dish out to unsuspecting friends, family and animals this month – presents are for life, not just for Christmas., £40

of ingredients, e.g. one part sugar/two parts fat/three parts flour for a basic cookie dough. According to Ruhlman: ‘When you are dependent on recipes, you are a factory worker on an assembly line.’ Did you hear that, Heston? Mind you, if your foodie is fond of weighing spices for his ‘perfect chilli’ to two decimal places, then this book might be so heretical that it’s chucked on the metaphorical log fire. If that idea falls on deaf ears, you could get them a virtual cookery class of the sort that flies in the face of Ruhlman’s advice. The website was set up by some of the team behind culinary bible Modernist Cuisine, including Chris Young, the founding chef of Heston Blumenthal’s Experimental Kitchen at the Fat Duck. They offer lessons on diverse techniques,

from knife sharpening to sous vide, but only one is currently paid for – the macarons class at $39 (£24.50) – so don’t just email your foodie a link to the site, or you risk looking like a cheapskate. More content is promised. If you’re really stuck but don’t want to stoop to the fallback present of a selection box, you could take inspiration from the predicted food trends of 2014. Apparently, quinoa will no longer be hip, eggs will make a comeback, and seaweed won’t be reserved for sushi. So future-proof your offering and wrap up a bag of duck eggs, wakame, and freekeh. Or why not buy the foodie in question shares in anaerobic digesters? Because managing food waste is going to be big on the agenda – and that’s why we named this the alternative foodie gift guide. You’re welcome.

If they don’t like peanuts, buy them a gun. Relax, it’s the PolyScience Smoking Gun – you use it to smoke pieces of meat or fish in the comfort of your own home. It comes with two varieties of smoking sawdust and runs on AA batteries so you can take it anywhere. Please don’t tell Phagomania about it or we’ll never get out of the office alive., £59

The Alternative Foodie Gift Guide You know a foodie. You need to get them a present. And edible knickers just ain’t gonna cut it this time Words: Jamie Faulkner Illustration: Nikki Miles

‘Foodie’ has become a dirty word, lumped in with gourmand and gastronome as a pejorative term for someone who is essentially hard to please in all matters of the tastebuds. (Though don’t let its jocular sound fool you; snobbery is at work here.) So: what do you buy this finicky foodie of yours for Christmas? Above all, make sure it’s as recherché as possible. You know the thing: artisanal supersmall-batch mezcal made by one lone Mexican in the arse-end of Oaxaca; the Dalai Lama’s personal stash of pink Himalayan salt; the mummified remains of Elvis’ last supper (cookies and ice cream, in case you were wondering). If eBay’s all sold out of those, we’ve got a few other suggestions. Need a present that costs more than the average house price in the Northwest? HolidaysPlease and VeryFirstTo teamed up earlier in the year to offer one lucky (read: stupid rich) person the opportunity to visit all 109 threeMichelin-starred restaurants in one six month long foodie pilgrimage. It’ll set you back a cool £182,000 (per couple), not factoring in half a year’s lost salary, but we’re guessing money’s

December 2013

not really an issue at this point. Assuage your guilt at even considering such an extravagant gift with the knowledge that £1500 of it will go to The Prince’s Trust. experiences Another option is to sort the foodie wheat from the chaff by gifting some (edible) insects. You’ve seen them in books or maybe on the TV; they occasionally invade your home and interrupt you for no apparent reason. Now you can make someone eat them. If the recipient of your I’m a Celebrity’ Bush Tucker Trial-style bag of mixed bugs (eBay, £4.99) turns their nose up, explain that nothing confirms you as a proper foodie like eating creepy crawlies. And that they’re saving the planet by eating new sources of protein. Okay. Okay. Enough with the jokes already. How about something that might actually please these culinary connoisseurs? Tell them to stop buying cookbooks. Well, sort of. Free them from the tyranny of recipes by getting them Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking, by Michael Ruhlman (RRP £9.99). The premise is straightforward enough: instead of sticking to strict recipes, you learn ratios




Around the World in 20 Drinks: Finland

In the last of our series on the wide world of booze, we head to Santa’s homeland – Finland – for some ethical beer, suspicious spirit, and lovely sparkling mead

Food News See out December by keeping warm and drinking. This month, themes are: Berlin, pirates, and the 1930s. Yo, ho, ho and eine flasche of rum, dollface

Words: Peter Simpson

Words: Jamie Faulkner Illustration: Rachel Davey

Kukko Lager


inland seems a good place to finish our global booze jaunt – besides their sheltering of Santa in Lapland for so many years, the fact that they celebrated the end of their ill-fated attempt at prohibition in 1932 with a literal countdown to 5/4/32 at 10am tells us that these are our kind of people. Exhibit A: Kukko beer, one of the more ethical and inclusive products we’ve featured in this column. The Finnish brewery’s drinks are produced in a plant powered entirely by wind turbines so the whales and pandas are happy, and all but one of the beers are gluten free which keeps the intolerant among us happy. Crucially, reports suggest that the loss of gluten and the lack of deadly carbon emissions haven’t impacted unduly on the finished product. As anyone who has ever chewed on a piece of gluten-free toast with the taste and texture of a bathmat will tell you, that is easier said than done. When it’s time for something stronger, the

Finns break out the Lakkalikööri. It’s a spirit based on the cloudberry, a frankly odd fruit that looks like a cross between a tomato and Sloth from 80s kids’ classic The Goonies. It’s a sweet and interesting drink, we’re told, but there’s very little else to report. It’s the standard suspicious pale spirit – interesting for the first few, then all of a sudden questions start being asked about whether reindeer can fly. Besides, it’s not like you can make it at home or anything like that. That’s where Sima comes in. Finnish mead with a little bit of a sparkling edge, it’s a lowpercentage hooch that combines honey, lemon, water, yeast and a plastic bottle. Chuck in a few raisins, and when they rise to the top a couple of days later you’ve got yourself… well, some cloudy and slightly suspicious booze. Perfect if you need a late gift direct from Santa himself, and, as this column has shown over the last year-and-a-half, you could do a whole lot worse.

Waste Not, Want Not I

n theory, I detest waste. In reality, I am a poor practitioner of my parents’ ‘waste not, want not’ mantra. The other day, I threw out: several slices of pre-packaged cheese that looked like they’d had a run in with some wilting dandelion puffs; assorted breads cultivating hamlets of green mould, and several vegetable stuffs that had spontaneously liquefied. Although this is an all too common occurrence, on this occasion I did it with more than an afterthought: unless you’ve accidentally tripped into an Iceland chestfreezer and been quasi-cryogenically frozen, you’ll know that the scale of food waste is a topic on everyone’s lips. Or not, as the case may be. Frugality may have seen a necessary resurgence post-recession, yet collectively we seem to be more wasteful than ever, especially in the food stakes (less than we were in 2007, but the figures are still huge) – and what better moment to broach such an issue than at this time of unbridled excess? (There’ll be no guilttripping here, though, just a gentle nudge in the right direction – more in the vein of Flight of the Conchords’ Issues (Think About It) than the populist smugness of [Feed The World] Do They Know



It’s Christmas?) Perhaps you’ll recall Tesco’s bagged-saladgate from October, when they revealed the staggering amount of waste across their operation: they generated around 28,000 tonnes in the first half of 2013 alone. More staggering still is the fact that they are but a bit-part contributor to the 15 million tonnes of food we waste each year. Following this admission, the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), who had worked with Tesco to figure out their food waste ‘footprint’, published a report in November on the scale of household food waste. It showed that almost ‘50% of the total [waste] across all sectors’ is produced by consumers. Of these approximately 7 million tonnes, 4.2 million were ‘avoidable’, i.e. food that could have been eaten. Not eggshells and green potatoes. Something’s clearly going wrong. Reactions on forums attached to articles about household food waste are enlightening. Among differing opinions, there is plenty of disbelief, righteousness, and reference to Tory blame-culture. While we have to be mindful not to interpret the report in a way that absolves

Photo: Tommi Nummelin


he festive season is something of a doubleedged sword for food lovers. At one end of the spectrum, there’s the possibility of impressing friends and family with a year of accumulated cooking techniques; at the other, there’s the issue that most restaurants go to pot at this time of year as they put all of their efforts into Christmas menus and decorations, and their overworked kitchen staff develop murderous feelings for office parties of any shape or size. So, in our humble opinion, it’s probably best to avoid eating out altogether and stick to the pubs. Not that the office parties won’t be there. Really, we’d tell you to stay at home if we could. But that wouldn’t be news. Basically, right, here are some new-ish places to grab a tipple this December – while all your mates are paying over the odds for steins of lager and various spitroast animal parts at the Christmas markets and ice bars, you can pay slightly less and be warm. Indoors. Over Merseyside way, Living Ventures continue their dominance of the Northwest’s bar and restaurant scene with what we can only assume is the region’s first pirate-themed bar/restaurant. The Smugglers Cove at Albert Dock is aiming to wow with a selection of over 150 rums and its deli, rotisserie and BBQ food. Judging by reactions on Twitter, there’s a je-ne-sais-quoi about pirate-style that really strikes a chord with the locals: ‘just what Liverpool was missing,’ wrote one on Twitter; ‘Felt like I was on in a pirate movie tonight,’ said another. Coleen Rooney’s even been. So it must be good. @smugglerscoveL If you find yourself, as many will, in the vicinity of Manchester’s Spinningfields district this December, you can visit a new non-Living Ventures bar. It’s called Neukölln, after the über-hip Berlin suburb, and, contrary to the laws of quantum mechanics, occupies the same spot as Caffeine & Co.’s pop-up coffe shop.

Theoretically, if you grab a flat white after a spot of present-shopping and wait long enough (until 6pm to be accurate), the cafe will ‘transform’ into a bar, serving the likes of Jever Pilsner, Maisel’s Weisse, and other craft beers, including Thornbridge’s Jaipur and Anchor Steam’s Brekle’s Brown. A decent back-bar and interesting bar snacks will flesh the whole thing out. @NeukollnMCR December is always a slow news month, so that means the boys from The Liquorists feature once again as they launch another popup just in time to attract the Chrimbo footfall. The Kowloon Correspondents Club is based in Manchester’s Barton Arcade, the home of fashion boutiques and the infamous Circle Club, and will showcase Belvedere vodka through an eclectic cocktail menu and a 1930s feel. Elsewhere, look out for speakeasy Fitzgerald Bar, riding the breakers of The Great Gatsby’s success and bringing a ’20s vibe to 11 Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter. #KCC @TheLiquorists @TheFitzgeraldNQ Finally, every news segment at this time of year must have a happy ending, a story so achingly saccharine that it warms the iciest of Scrooge-like hearts. So here goes: Martin Hargreaves, a baker from Bolton who works for Greenhalgh’s Craft Bakeries, has made the region proud by recently winning the fifth National Cupcake Championship with his take on a lemon meringue pie. Told you it was sweet (chortle). Merry Christmas!

Among all the excess of the season, our Food editor takes a moment to think Words: Jamie Faulkner supermarkets and other sectors of blame, it’s no good letting ideology and the ‘well, I’m not wasteful, so others can’t possibly waste that much/so it must be others wasting it’ mindset get in the way. Yes, supermarkets are undeniably complicit in this waste. They package things in quantities we often don’t need. Their ‘uniform standardisation parameters’, which favour stocking ‘perfect’ produce, have made us suspicious of food that has turned in our fridges or on the shelves, and leads to the rejection of tonnes of edible food earlier on in the food chain. Salad leaves could indeed be sold individually – as they sometimes are in greengrocers. Though Tesco have announced plans to improve their practices and Sainsbury’s intend to open their first waste neutral store, we as consumers need to petition for change if we’re not going to acknowledge our shortcomings or adjust our own behaviour, which many would argue is but a byproduct of ‘supermarket culture’ and a lack of education. At the very least, supporting MP Kerry McCarthy’s 2012 food waste bill, which demands that supermarkets donate excess food


to charities, would be a good place to start. Indignant forum-ites can ask for more education in schools – and beyond – on buying and storing food, something that WRAP’s own Love Food Hate Waste campaign has tried to do. Elsewhere, we can encourage initiatives like Company Shop, which sells residual supermarket stock at discounts of up to 90%, though stores only exist in Barnsley and Grimsby so far. Things are apparently improving. According to WRAP, food waste has decreased by 21% since 2007. And there is good work being done: closer to home, 300 of Manchester’s restaurants including the Mark Addy and San Carlo have signed up to the Green Chef’s food waste collection service, which diverts hospitality waste from landfills to anaerobic digesters and vessel composting schemes. If the industry is willing to change and we can re-assess our sometimes blasé attitudes towards throwing out food, maybe we can achieve BandAid’s dream of feeding the world. Just without the annoying bloody pop songs. A fully referenced version of this article can be found online at



An upmarket traditional pub with a quirky and classy edge. Our drinks selection include 6 fine cask ales, premium lagers, beers & an exquisite wine selection.

The Lower Turks Head, 36 Shudehill Manchester M4 1EZ 0161 834 2910 07814 184 384 Phil Ainsworth Director & Landlord

Our first floor bar offers you a wonderful dining experience with a delightful menu, or else alternatively somewhere for you to relax and unwind in the afternoon or evening. We also have a beer garden terrace with plenty of seating area, over looking out beautiful city Manchester. The Lower Turks Head will offer you a fantastic atmosphere & ambiance, somewhere for you to enjoy a evening out with friends or just somewhere for you to unwind with one of our many tasteful drinks.


Book your Christmas party with us! Free glass of beer or wine* and with groups larger than 8, the booker goes free

Quote SK5 to get this offer. *bottled beer or small glass of wine only

HOPSKOTCH Street Kitchen & Bar and THE HATCH Mathew Street, Liverpool L1 6AU | 0151 908 0098 |

December 2013


BOOK NOW: 0161 832 1111 DECEMBER Papa Roach Thursday 5th


Watain Thursday 5th White Lies Friday 6th Dutch Uncles Friday 6th Electric Six Friday 6th For Those About To Rock – Livewire AC/DC + The ZZ Tops Saturday 7th The Word Alive Sunday 8th The Men They Couldn’t Hang Thursday 12th Alabama 3 Friday 13th Gogol Bordello Saturday14th Scar The Martyr Saturday14th Levellers Friday 20th

DECEMBER 04 YO LA TENGO east village arts club




EAGULLS the shipping forecast



The Ratells Saturday 21st Overload Saturday 28th






FILTHY BOY the shipping forecast with bam!bam!bam!

Lamb Of God Sunday 19th dan le sac vs Scroobius Pip Sunday 19th Megan Nicole Tuesday 21st Julia Sheer Wednesday 22nd Redd Kross Friday 24th


Mayday Parade Thursday 30th RX Bandits Friday 31st

FEBRUARY Jefferson Starship Saturday 1st

Tickets on sale from ONLINE: Ticketweb / Bido Lito! / Ticketline IN PERSON: Probe Records (School Ln) & The Brink (Parr St) FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @HARVEST_SUN @LPOOLPSYCHFEST

Killswitch Engage / Trivium Saturday 1st Skindred Sunday 2nd Less Than Jake + Reel Big Fish Monday 3rd Ron Pope Tuesday 4th February Little Comets Wednesday 5th


Protest The Hero Thursday 6th August Burns Red Monday 10th Phoenix Tuesday 11th The Defiled Tuesday 11th Mikill Pane Friday 14th Parquet Courts Saturday 15th Tich Saturday 15th Sonic Boom Six Wednesday 19th twenty one pilots Friday 21st MDNGHT Saturday 22nd Laura Cantrell Saturday 22nd Rock Sound Impericon Exposure Tour 2014 We Came As Romans + Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! + The Color Morale + Palm Reader Wednesday 26th Gavin Degraw Friday 28th

MARCH Temples Saturday 1st The Dear Hunter & Anthony Green Saturday 1st Blackberry Smoke Sunday 2nd Architects Friday 7th

‘The Jungfraus’

‘Last Days of Butterfly’

by The Jungfraus OUT 9th December 2013

by Stranger OUT NOW


“steadfastness, resilience and beauty” 4/5 Big Issue

All Time Low Thursday 13th & Friday 14th Heaven 17 Saturday 15th


Space & Republica Thursday 20th

Leonard Skully’s

Ian Prowse & Amsterdam Friday 21st Franz Ferdinand Saturday 22nd

‘What’s Happening?’

Transmission – The Sounds Of Joy Division Saturday 22nd

- a monthly roundup of events in Manchester

Earl Sweatshirt Tuesday 25th Bonafide Wednesday 26th Azealia Banks Wednesday 26th


The Stranglers Saturday 29th Katy B Saturday 29th

APRIL Halestorm Friday 4th


Deaf Havana Saturday 5th


For full listings visit



The Wildhearts Thursday 10th

‘Sally & Prinss Revisited’ by Politburo OUT NOW

Leonard Skully PhD Leona at


“have you thumbing through your Rubble compilations with a wondering frown” Incendiary Mag


THE SKINNY SKINNY.61x314.Master.indd 1

26/11/2013 15:34

Gig Highlights

Advent Events

This month's gigs are front-loaded to make way for our annual shindig to celebrate the birth of Santa, but there are still plenty of must-go shows, from Yo La Tengo to Factory Floor via Everything Everything

Words: Joe Goggins Photography: Georgia Kuhn

Words: Laura Swift


hristmas be damned – there remains plenty to look forward to across the Northwest’s live scene as 2013 draws to a close, providing the opportunity for merciful respite from the festive markets. There’s a slew of superb bookings at Manchester’s Gorilla, with an appearance from soulful troubadour Night Beds on 6 Dec and, on 8 Dec, the return of the always fun Los Campesinos!, who play in support of their finest full-length yet, No Blues. Sandwiched in between on 7 Dec is the veritable assault on the senses that is the Factory Floor live show; Liverpudlians can also catch them two days earlier (5 Dec) at The Kazimier, as they finally get around to touring a debut record that took far too long to reach the shelves. It’s a strong opening week at the other end of the Mersey, too, with Everything Everything playing a rescheduled date at Liverpool O2 Academy on 5 Dec – but the real treat comes a day earlier on 4 Dec at East Village Arts Club, when New Jersey veterans Yo La Tengo, who just released a deluxe reissue of their terrific Fade LP, will play two sets, one acoustic and one electric, with no support. It’s the latest in a string of unusual approaches to their live shows – they once opened a gig with a full onstage run-through of the Contest episode of Seinfeld – and it was a tactic that paid major dividends at their tremendous Manchester show back in March. In chart-friendlier territory, HAIM hit Manchester on 8 Dec for a gig that was quite clearly booked long before their debut record, Days Are Gone, topped the album charts in October; The Ritz will surely provide the most intimate confines you’re likely to see the LA sisters in any time soon. The recently reunited Quasi play The Deaf Institute the same night; expect a career-spanning set from the once-married pair, alongside choice cuts from their excellent new album, Mole City. You could also catch legendary drug user and occasional Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr. on the other side of town that night, playing a low-key solo show at the Night & Day. Events out in Trafford at The Warehouse Project take on added significance in the wake of the announcement that the series will take a break in 2014, with just a handful of special shows to plug the gap. The venue’s final full programme for a while has saved some of its biggest hitters ‘til last, though, including The Prodigy making their live return with a three-night stand at the venue (18-20 Dec), with Jaguar Skills supporting on all dates and a special ‘Warrior’s Dance’ show promised. Fans of old-school ravers can choose

Tired of Mariah, but still looking for some music to warm the cockles? Try these alternative seasonal gigs, and huddle up in the The Kazimier Winter Garden


roof, if it were needed, that the human race will be the primary cause of its own downfall can be found in its increasing inclination over the last few years to respond to falling temperatures with a raging desire to get the fuck outside. Ice rinks, several-acre funfairs and violently reproducing Christmas markets are now the order of the day for any conurbations worth their (road) salt – but while you can’t really deny the simple spirit-lift of some trees wearing fairylights, and while you do, admittedly, get to keep an alright souvenir mug for a couple of quid, there is perhaps a vague existential sadness to be felt in witnessing thousands of urbanites stoically trying to convince themselves that freezing their tits off in a hutted-up town square and scrumming it out for a hotdog approximates a fairytale experience in Lapland.

Olafur Arnalds

Factory Floor

to double up that week when Primal Scream play Manchester Academy on 15 Dec; expect Screamadelica classics as well as tracks from this year’s criminally overlooked More Light. There’s plenty more excitement this month with shows from a clutch of the the region’s most exciting crop of new bands for a long time. Local boys Dutch Uncles play their biggest headline gig in town to date at Academy 2 on 6 Dec, with support from Liverpool’s excellent Outfit guaranteeing an all-Northwest affair. Now Wave bring the mysterious No Ceremony to Soup Kitchen for a sold out show on 9 Dec, with PINS following suit at The Deaf Institute on 13 Dec; the four-piece are currently on incendiary live form on the back of supporting Warpaint in October. There is, however, a more serene option down the road

that also involves Manchester natives; the nowveteran I Am Kloot follow up March’s two-night stand at The Ritz with a Friday the 13th headline at the O2 Apollo. Those looking to get into the spirit of the season would be well-advised to head to Slow Club’s intimate show at Manchester’s Night & Day (6 Dec), part of their now-customary Christmas tour; last year’s outing at Gorilla was riotously good fun, and with their third full-length expected early next year, it’s safe to assume there’ll be some new material aired. There’s an understandable dearth of great gigs in the second half of the month, but with an already-exciting January schedule lined up, it’ll be a nice breather – particularly if the Northwest live scene remains as healthy in 2014 as it has been this year.

Do Not Miss


urt Vile is a man who’s done very little wrong in recent years; his decision to limit his contributions to old band The War on Drugs in favour of a solo career paid off in spectacular fashion two years ago, with the terrific Smoke Ring for My Halo meeting with rapturous critical acclaim and bothering many an end-of-year list. Follow-up Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze, released back in April, paid less attention to traditional songwriting structures than its predecessor and features some sprawling, spaced-out tracks, including

December 2013

two ten-minute bookends. Incredibly, the more self-indulgent Vile seems to get, the better he sounds, making attendance obligatory at his only Northwest show. He’ll bring his backing band The Violators to the old debating hall for a set that’s likely to be noisier and heavier than his blissedout records and stoner persona would have you expect; there’s the opportunity, too, for him to play tracks from new EP it’s a big world out there (and i am scared). [Joe Goggins]


Kurt Vile

Photo: Gemma Burke

Kurt Vile, Manchester Academy 2, 14 Dec

However, if you’re still determined to layer up like a rainbow cake and greet the gritty whip of the city wind with ruddy cheeks and an undimmed commitment to mulling, the newly opened Kazimier Winter Garden in Liverpool offers a cosier, quirkier festive bolthole (and they’ve actually installed two enclosed spaces heated by wood burners, so ner). Sitting pertly in the middle of a calendar taking in Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds’ frosted, inchoate instrumentals (3 Dec, in the club space) and the HIVE collective’s Xmas do (21 Dec, in the Garden), the holly on top of the Kaz’s Christmas pudding is its MYTHOPOEIA: Night of the Ice Dragon Christmas Party on 14 Dec, which will see the outdoor grotto as well as the internal venue aestheticised along the theme of this mythical beast. Music comes from Stealing Sheep, Paddy Steer, the Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band, the Kazimier Krunk Band, DJ Jacques and more; costumes are encouraged, and there’ll be all manner of stuff roastin’ on an open, um, charcoal grill. In Manchester, meanwhile, Rusholme’s den of deviance Antwerp Mansion are billing their third Storytime Festival a ‘Winter Wonderland’, with all manner of performance from musical to spoken word and live art filling the house (8 Dec, 4.30pm-12am), while Psychmare Before Christmas returns to Soup Kitchen for a second year, this time offering the hottest of toddies in the form of The Oscillation, Base Ventura! and Kult Country (19 Dec). Finally, it’d be a stretch to call it a festive bill, but if you’re looking for brutalist, unforgiving winter sonics then look no further than Faktion’s Diagonal party at Islington Mill, Salford, on 14 Dec, which they must’ve done themselves a mischief in pulling together: Andy Stott and Russell Haswell headline with live sets, while Helena Hauff, Powell, Patrick Codenys and Faktion/ Boomkat’s Conor Thomas DJ. Merry hex-mas.



The Deaf Institute, Manchester, 13 Nov

Gold Panda

East Village Arts Club, Liverpool, 23 Nov


Following the release of his second album Half of Where You Live in June, Berlin-based, Essexborn producer Gold Panda takes to the stage in Liverpool for the second leg of his UK tour. Although not as packed to the rafters as one might expect for a Saturday night of this electronic calibre, East Village Arts Club welcomes a decent crowd who, from opening track We Work Nights, are hooked to Gold Panda as if he is a fisherman reeling us in and bringing us up. We are led on a dreamy electronic journey across the globe, to places from which this new album has taken clear influences. Following We Work Nights, Gold Panda launches into the sixminute banger that is Brazil. A hollow bassline, winding synth and male voice repeating the country’s name create a glowing energy, which is


Daughn Gibson

Daughn Gibson

East Village Arts Club, Liverpool, 24 Nov


“Tonight seems like a good night for us to just fuck around; that’s alright with you guys, right?” asks Daughn Gibson with the rhetorical artifice of a malevolent bar brawler with an axe to grind. “OK, you asked for it.” When the possessor of Sub Pop’s most blood-curdling baritone demands compliance with his right to fuck around, it’s most wise to appear amenable. The persona of brutish Lynchian storyteller Daughn Gibson is taken on by Pennsylvanian native Josh Martin, a former truck driver who has the physique of a rabid cage-fighter and a face chiselled from granite found on the roadside. Tonight he affects a snake-hipped Nick Cave at his most mercurial, fronting a leftfield Burial side-project haunted by the ghost of Johnny Cash. It’s a fuck-awful formula of ill-fitting ideologies spliced together heavy-handedly, which would usually indicate it’s just plainly fuck-awful. But in the context of East Village Arts Club – and of his two albums, 2012’s All Hell and 2013’s Me



In her recent interview with The Skinny, Julia Holter was disarmingly honest about her expressionist, observational narratives. Laudably self-deprecating, she offered: “It’s hard to detect where my actual experience of life comes in.” Don’t buy it. Her elegant reconstruction of pop archetypes might favour experimentation over candid confessional, but there’s a direct line to her creative core if you know where to look. Plus, with Holter, you come to better know the writer through the performer. Backed by a largely classically-schooled band (cello, violin, sax, drums) who watch her every move and read the advanced schematics of her songs with practised ease, she vaults the challenges laid down by her recorded work. The LA songwriter’s contention that her work is less re-telling and more re-enactment is borne out not just by the bustling tableaux of recent album Loud City Song but by a deeply

transferred to the thrilled and valued audience. Background visuals of kaleidoscopic colours and patterns blend with photographic images and become integrated with the richly textured soundscape. This intense 90-minute set rises and rises, and as the crowd dances it feels like the night shouldn’t end. A broad set of samples are taken from a variety of tracks: most notably, mid-way through Community, Gold Panda launches into one of his earlier classics, You, from Lucky Shiner. A highlight of the night, taken from his sixtrack Reprise EP, is encore If U Knew; the lines “If you knew how much I miss you…” reverberate around the grand converted theatre. The track develops with muffled klaxons and melodious pianistic refrains, creating a crackly, crisp sound, which fits perfectly with the woodland trees projected behind him and the autumnal fireworks Baths Islington Mill, Salford, 23 Nov and crunchy leaves outside. [Natasha Linford]

Moan – the misanthropic Americana, deranged Moog stabs and found sounds are a triumph of the classic and the creepy, the maudlin and the modern. Mawkish opener In the Beginning sets a reverent tone, but it’s single Phantom Rider that rears its head furthest from the darkness as a standalone highlight: woozy freak-pop as heard through Daughn’s drunkard bellowing and chewed up syllables. Daughn’s approach to songwriting is one of humanism; he’s less of a banger-monger, more of a campfire crooner with a penchant for the sinister. Why, for Kissin on the Blacktop he almost seems bleary-eyed; though he definitely isn’t, of course – he has way too much chest hair for any sentimental codswallop. He vindictively picks out crowd members to engage them in one-on-one staring contests during final song A Young Girl’s World, affecting the hyper-masculinity of a spandex-clad WWE Superstar; fear for dinner, pelvic thrusts for breakfast. It’s a cocaine-fuelled Elvis Presley, not an MCAT-addled James Blake. Now bow down to your patriarchal master. [Joshua Nevett]

Photo: Gaz Jones

Gold Panda

Photo: Stuart Moulding


He wears thick-rimmed frames and shorts short enough to make a modest pensioner blush. His sweet demeanour is paralleled with his boy-lost voice, but don’t be fooled: Will Wiesenfeld, aka Baths, is about to deliver something dark and complex, and no, we’re not talking about a fine wine. Wiesenfeld’s latest offering, Obsidian, is the yin to debut Cerulean’s yang. Where Cerulean was an escape into a dream, Obsidian shares the air of cynicism and something lost. We’re introduced to Miasma Sky; an exchange between the protagonist and a ‘tall rock shelf’ with an undertone of inflicted harm. There are twisted synths but also bleeps recognisable from a computer game. Worsening gives us more thunderous beats among echoic vocals and clean piano melodies. Though this tour is for Wiesenfeld to promote Obsidian, we get visits from his previous

Thom Yorke, Four Tet + Daphni The Warehouse Project, Manchester, 2 Nov


Victoria Warehouse’s several-thousand capacity, the necessary stepping up of security with the venue move from beneath Piccadilly railway station in 2012, and an inevitable element of people now attending less to have a good time and more to get completely wrecked have all contributed to an alteration in the atmosphere of The Warehouse Project – an event that, despite its size and stature, used to manage to feel just the right side of unsupervised. Occasionally, however, and with the right line-up, that flush of communal abandon can still overpower; and one of the biggest clubs in the world can feel like a party for these people, at this time, in this place. Tonight, when amid a signature set of awkward abrasions and tripped timeframes, Thom Yorke picks up the microphone and pours the “because we separate” refrain of Reckoner over its fever-dream strings,


committed and generous performance. Tonight, she rarely breaks eye contact with the crowd (bar drifting off on occasion into her own private reverie). Live performance affords an opportunity to view her songbook from new and unexpected angles. Maxim’s I and City Appearing flex around the free-wheeling fancies of the musicians. Marienbad’s choral tip-toe blooms. The cliff edge stop-start during Four Gardens is teased out almost unbearably. Everything connects, everything breathes anew. She’s funny, too. “You probably think you’ve come here to just stand there and watch,” she says by way of introduction. “Well, clearly, Manchester, you don’t know how these things work…” Silence. She squints into the spotlight. “Mmm. It’s a good job I can’t see any of you, otherwise I wouldn’t be saying any of this stuff.” Pause. “I’m so nervous!” Later she offers thanks for the warmth of the reception. “I feel like we’ve had a good conversation,” she muses and then smiles, ever-playful. “I feel like we’ve… worked on stuff.” [Gary Kaill]

Julia Holter

venture Lovely Bloodflow, with approving cheers from an almost packed-out Islington Mill. Wiesenfeld shows off a “tidier” look, perhaps owed to his confessed first encounter in Manchester’s Canal Street – “You need to shave your sideburns if you want to get laid.” The bassheavy beats of Earth Death saunter through the speakers, captivating the crowd with their consuming presence before descending into a Squarepusher-esque frenzy. Wiesenfeld’s classically trained fingers rapidly drill thumping, alarming rasps – it’s the highlight of the night. This three-minute detour from the original track is carried out in the most expert way, Wiesenfeld supported by his on-stage beat-makers. The set closes with No Eyes, shortly followed by encore You’re My Excuse to Travel, its glitchy familiarity giving the audience a satisfying goodbye. Khom’s vivid and iridescent visuals, partnered with Islington Mill’s effortless hosting, give Salford a night to write home about. [Edwina Chan]

Room 1 levitates. The silver-tongued thrill that it sends rippling through a suddenly transformed crowd lasts; and by the time Dan Snaith aka Daphni takes to the decks – the starry, pinpricked backdrop shifting to blasts of jackknifing orange – this vast space has buckled. Between them, Snaith and Four Tet, by now old hands at gearing a room into first without ever trespassing into the crowdpleasing, work through half of JIAOLONG, Kieran Hebden’s own new Kool FM and the past couple of years’ worth of usual suspects – Joy O’s BRTHDTT and Ellipsis, and... OK, lots of Joy O, basically – but pace them in such a way that each feels like it’s being given the ceremony it deserves, rather than tossed out like tidbits with so much nonchalance, as they often are at the hands of lesser masters. Four hours in and utterly lost to two of the least cool coolest men in music, the figures caught in this room’s yawning black maws are pie-eyed, arms out, and happy to sign off the rest of the year. [Lauren Strain]


Photo: Nick Bojdo

Julia Holter

Album of the Month

Death Grips

Government Plates [Thirdworlds, Out now]


If cancelled shows and major label snubs are anything to go by, budding Death Grips initiates would be wise to expect the unexpected. Case in point: Government Plates, the Sacramento trio’s latest misanthropic statement to the world, was simply posted with no prior hype. The collective’s thrilling assault of jarring punk, primal rhythms and shrill, disorientating electronics reign on lead-in track ...Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat, which is like viewing a drugfuelled rave through the rose-tinted glasses of a murderous sadist. Each consecutive cut rattles the cranium with a hybrid of


Climax [Svart, 2 Dec]

American Werewolf Academy

Brendan Canning



Out Of Place All The Time [Damnably, 9 Dec]


Although primarily a goth/post-punk outfit, Finland’s Beastmilk draw heavily upon the tropes of extreme metal; indeed, the initial buzz around the band upon their emergence owed much to the attention of Darkthrone’s Fenriz, who praised their 2010 demo White Stains on Black Tape. Nonetheless, it’s taken three years to produce a debut proper, and Climax sounds suitably accomplished, a thundering hybrid of nightmarish goth and screeching, reverb-laden black metal riffage. At their best, as on the pounding You Are Now Under Our Control, Beastmilk marry these influences in a genuinely thrilling way, sounding something like an absurdly overdriven Joy Division circa Unknown Pleasures; it’s not subtle, and it bears the stamp of its producer – Converge’s Kurt Ballou – in every groove. While the record’s generic hybridisation masks a slightly formulaic edge to their songwriting, that’s more than atoned for by the sheer angstridden energy on display here. [Sam Wiseman]

Goddam these songs. Just when you think you’ve seen too many straight-up powerpop bands or heard enough Guided By Voices classics getting bent outta shape, that’s when the fuckers getcha. American Werewolf Academy’s hooks will tear into your flesh and pull you apart, Hellraiser style, and you won’t even realise they’re doing so ’til it’s too late. Take Freebeard – the bass-driven riff bounces pleasantly enough until the chorus, whereupon the sense of lift sends the song spiralling into euphoria. Singer Aaron Thedford is their secret weapon, with his Brian Fallon-esque tones injecting a weathered cool into the more worldly-wise numbers, while during peppier moments, he sounds uncannily like Robert Pollard (Young Wild Free is practically a paean to Isolation Drills). Surrounded by chunky chords and heroic melodies, he makes plain ol’ pop songs seem like the only thing you’ll ever need. No fancy ideas necessary: Out Of Place All The Time is killer. [Will Fitzpatrick]

Blazing Gentlemen [GBV Inc, 9 Dec]

Adrian Crowley & James Yorkston

The Warlocks



PSYCH! As the drone signal lights up the night sky, it seems all manner of dark adventurers have heeded its call. The Warlocks’ cosmic soundscapes felt curiously out of place during their first flush of acclaim, during the retrospectively underwhelming ‘New Rock Revolution,‘ but they’ve clearly kept one eye on the success of Tame Impala and scuzzier acts like Hookworms. The time is indubitably ripe for their return. Skull Worship sees the LA noisemakers sleeker and more narcotically sublime than ever, especially on the fugged-over menace of opener Dead Generations. Bobby Hecksher’s vocals are still halfway between zoned-out and full-on psychotic, while the band are at their best when conjuring up doomed laments like Silver & Plastic. Long notes hang ponderously and mournfully over solemn strums – new moods and textures for The Warlocks, which happily means new thrills for the rest of us. File alongside Dead Meadow: veterans in serious need of rediscovery. [Will Fitzpatrick]

The Fauns



Recorded in LA for radio station KCRW earlier this year, this fourth Cave live set splices selections from recent studio album Push the Sky Away with choice cuts from the back catalogue. The Bad Seeds have been doing this long enough now, they’re probably at the stage where they could ape Elvis Costello’s Spectacular Spinning Songbook and let fate decree the setlist, so it’s a little disappointing that some of those older choices play a little safe. An epic Higgs Boson Blues shines among the new stuff, and thumbs up for dusting off And No More Shall We Part. But older heads might balk at the inclusion yet again of The Mercy Seat and Jack the Ripper. In short: solid enough, expertly delivered, as ever, but hardly essential. Get the original recordings or get up close and personal: this halfway house doesn’t warm the blood like it should. [Gary Kaill]

Skull Worship [Zap Banana/Cargo, Out now]

Four years after its initial low-key release, Adrian Crowley and James Yorkston’s homage to Daniel Johnston is made widely available for the first time. With its parcel-taped sleeve and hand-written inlay, the original run’s presentation (99 CD-Rs sold at Fence’s Homegame festival) neatly fits the music: eight evocative home-recordings that echo Johnston’s lo-fi tendencies while approximating his indelible mix of romanticism, surrealism and wistfulness. The re-release may disperse some of that intimate, contextual aura, but otherwise the mini-album’s understated qualities remain sharp. Focusing on the decade in which Johnston’s legend was formed, Crowley and Yorkston imbue their reconstructions with nice atmospheric touches, from the echoes and vinyl crackle of True Love... to the clicks and whistles permeating Like a Monkey in a Zoo. My Yoke Is Heavy is a joy for Johnston fans of all stripes. [Chris Buckle]

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Live from KCRW [Bad Seed Ltd., 2 Dec]

When exactly does Brendan Canning sleep? It seems faintly ludicrous that despite his myriad bands, soundtrack projects and DJ commitments – not to mention the still-on-hiatus Broken Social Scene – You Gots 2 Chill is somehow only his second solo record. And a very lovely thing it is too, rich in warmth and character, particularly on the windswept Never Go To The Races. ‘I could lie awake,’ he sighs, wistfully articulating the feeling of comfortably resigning oneself to total darkness: it’s just one beautiful moment on a record full of them. If there’s a single problem with this predominantly acoustic collection, it’s that the chilled-out atmosphere promised by the title can make the listening experience feel a tad listless when stretched out across 14 tracks. When he gets it right, however, as on Bullied Days and the gorgeous However Long, it’s enough to make you wonder why you bother listening to anything else. [Will Fitzpatrick]

My Yoke Is Heavy: The Songs of Daniel Johnston [Chemikal Underground, 6 Dec]


You Gots 2 Chill [Draper Street/SQE, 2 Dec]

Robert Pollard

Even by his own effusive standards, 2013 has been a busy year for Robert Pollard. Incredibly, Blazing Gentlemen is the Ohioan’s sixth fulllength since April (for those keeping a tally, that’s one Guided By Voices album, two from Circus Devils, one as Teenage Guitar, and now two under his own name), yet there’s more to admire here than sheer prolificacy. In fact, Blazing Gentlemen is notably consistent and crisp, with the economical pop of Storm Center Level Seven, the stuttering guitars of Lips of Joy and the tempo-switching strut of My Museum Needs an Elevator all helping make it one of the most satisfying entries in his solo discography thus far. The only significant criticism is one of context. As his output proliferates, keeping up becomes a challenge only the most devotional can commit to, likely robbing Blazing Gentlemen of the attention it deserves. In all other respects, however, chalk this one up as a hit. [Chris Buckle]

styles, some harsh, others (relatively) muted; Whatever I Want and the title track both toy with downtempo glitch when they’re not being savaged by Stefan Burnett’s distorted, aggressive jeers. It’s easily their most abstract record yet, plunging deeper into the bleak, futuristic abyss they peered down into on last year’s NO LOVE DEEP WEB. Tracks don’t blend together as much as they stutter and malfunction in order to give way to more sonic depravity. As such, it’s at times a challenging listen – even by their standards – but one that further empowers their merciless, selfserving legacy. [Ross Watson]


Lights [Invada, 2 Dec] Alison Garner’s mannered, half-whispered vocals are the first clue that The Fauns are very much in thrall to the apparently immortal influence of the early 90s shoegaze scene. Throbbing bass, jackhammer snare, layers of distorted guitar – Lights demonstrates a sound enough working knowledge of the sub-genre it clearly holds dear without ever really carving out enough identity to engage in depth. In recent years, the likes of 2:54, Chelsea Wolfe and Howling Bells have grasped the dark heart of gothic pop in a fuller sense, building character atop their methodology, and displaying songwriting smarts. The Fauns settle for atmospheric effect too easily here on this, their second album. A shame, because when they get it right, as on the creeping If Ever, whose skyscraper riff tips a nod to Spacemen 3’s epoch-defining Revolution, they’re a genuine proposition. It’s the more by-numbers moments (see the drifting lullaby Give Me Your Love) that weaken the whole. [Gary Kaill]

SUM/ONE [4AD, 2 Dec]


Experimentation is risky by nature, and too often the results can be sloppy, disquieting drivel. On paper, the seemingly attention-deficit audio salad that clatters and hisses from the outset of SUM/ONE might flirt with such an outcome, but fortunately Brian DeGraw’s solo debut is a unified and focused swarm, plump with varied virtuosity. Drawing on the textures and palettes of his electronic work in Gang Gang Dance, DeGraw – as bEEdEEgEE – channels an unabashed, unfettered vibrancy and sonic recklessness from track to track, segueing through static crackle and vocal snippets. The soft pop of Empty Vases slides into Overlook’s exotic worldbeat, which in turn funnels into the record’s synth revivalist centrepiece (F.U.T.D) Time of Waste, where Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor witters on about shagging over a mutating, restless backdrop. If this album is an experiment, it’s one that clangs with industrial noise and whirrs with myriad hybrid effects, like some gene-spliced chimera that’s escaped the lab. [George Sully]

December 2013




Jason Molina Remembered


first met Jason Molina in September 1995; I was 18 and he was 21 or 22. This was before the first Songs:Ohia record. I’d just moved to Glasgow and I was getting heavily involved in the music scene. Jason and I both had singles coming out on Will Oldham’s Palace Records. Will had mentioned Jason to me during a telephone conversation, saying that his music sounded ‘very old.’ One day I received an unexpected and intriguing letter from Jason, on blue airmail paper in an elegant and old-fashioned script. It might have been sent from the 19th century (that is, from a North American of the 1800s as imagined by a teenage Scot who hadn’t been there). We began to exchange letters. Jason was living in London on exchange from Oberlin College. I remember the general tone of his letters rather than what they contained, but I do recall a couple of sentences: ‘Have you owls in Scotland? One does hoot outside my window as I write.’ This was before the internet, email and the ‘digital music revolution.’ Then, all my recording was done at home to four-track cassette, and I suppose it was similar with Jason – but I hadn’t yet heard a note of his music. We spoke on the telephone and I found he was a down-to-earth fellow, contrary to the impression that his letters might have given me – and very friendly. I had expected to be intimidated by him – but I was easily intimidated back then. We agreed to meet, and I rode to London on a free coach taking students to a protest (not that I was apolitical, but I don’t remember what the protest was about, and I am sure my presence was not missed). So that was the first time we met. At that point he had long hair in a ponytail and seemed inseparable from his leather jacket. We spent three or four days exploring London, stopping here and there for coffee or food, visiting galleries and some of Jason’s favourite spots, and talking. I am sure Jason, bright and boundlessly energetic, did most of the talking, because I was a shy lad back then. I remember him spontaneously bursting into wordless song as we walked – clearly a born musician. Jason talked about Ohio and I about Scotland. We discussed music, inevitably (Kraftwerk, Trans Am, Gene Autry and Merle Haggard), art (Joseph Cornell, Cy Twombly) and literature (Edna St Vincent Millay, Seamus Heaney), all subjects about which he was very knowledgeable and passionate. We spent time with other American students; sitting in a café on the banks of the Thames, I remember that the subject of ‘Meat Henge’ came up. This was an idea that Jason and his friends (although I suspect it was mostly Jason) had had for a conceptual rock opera featuring a megalith hewn not of stone but of animal flesh. This was an inkling of



Jason’s sense of humour, or at least one aspect of it. I remember sitting one evening in Jason’s flat, candles lit, him singing and playing his fourstring tenor guitar for about an hour. This was the first time I had heard that music, that sounded so unfathomably old and wise, belying his relative youth, its sombreness in contrast to his apparently up-beat personality. The first thing I heard him sing was an old song about the Erie Canal, then Freedom, Part 2 from that first Palace Records single. Jason had heard that there was a ‘traditional music’ session going on so a group of us went along. He introduced himself to the assembled musicians who were seated in a closed group around a table, their backs to the pub. Jason sang Freedom and they responded favourably before closing the circle again. Eventually I caught a train back to Glasgow, carrying a cassette of Jason’s songs – demos for the first Songs:Ohia LP on Secretly Canadian. I spent the long Perthshire winter of 1995 listening to it. It still moves me most of all Jason’s music, despite everything great he made and all that he achieved later. In 2000 I went to Lincoln, Nebraska to record with Jason. The Ghost Tropic LP emerged from these sessions. Apart from The Lioness LP session at Chem 19 near Glasgow (with Arab Strap and drummer Geof Comings) earlier that year, on which I played on one song, this was my first real experience of working with him in the studio, and it was fascinating and deeply rewarding. In some senses he had a really clear idea of what he wanted – the songs were within him and simply had to come out – but in terms of the arrangements and what drummer Shane Aspegren and I came up with, and how engineer Mike Mogis recorded it, he liked to be surprised and was prepared to take our ideas on board.  Jason played each song once for us to learn it – songs more defined by mood than by structure, so it was more a case of tapping into that than learning lots of chord changes. We’d play each song a few times, then record two or three takes. Jason liked doing things as live – and as quickly – as possible. I’m not sure whether that remained true throughout his career, but I suspect that his fondness for capturing that spontaneous and unrepeatable moment of creation, live and in the studio, was with him until the end. I believe that Jason possessed that quality which in an Andalucian flamenco singer might be called duende – the music’s spirit coursing through him. Later, I was fortunate to tour with Jason. A trip through Florida and the South with Magnolia Electric Co. sticks in my mind keenly. I will always be very grateful to Jason for inviting

me along – it’s difficult to imagine that I would ever have been able to travel in and experience those places otherwise, and there can’t be many Scottish musicians who have had that opportunity. Thanks, Jason. By then, his ever-evolving music had developed in tandem with his fellow musicians – it rocked more than Ghost Tropic – and he had a well-deserved cult following, playing to packed rooms every night. The tour ended at the 40 Watt Club in Athens, Georgia and I vividly remember driving, with tour manager Dirk Knibbe, back to Jason’s Chicago home the following day. A gifted raconteur, Jason enthusiastically regaled us all the way with many stories, including the tale of H.H. Holmes, who was the subject of a then-recent book entitled The Devil In the White City by Erik Larson. Holmes was one of America’s earliest serial killers, luring his victims to their deaths in a specially constructed ‘Murder Castle’ during the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. Jason told this macabre story well, although he was equally gifted as a teller of less gruesome tales, not to mention jokes.  I enjoyed staying with Jason and his wife Darcie in Chicago on a couple of occasions. Once we visited a yard sale; a piece of wood with a message written on it caught Jason’s attention. I read it: ‘Some hae meat and cannae eat…’ – Burns’ Selkirk Grace, of course! This appealed to Jason greatly, who bought the plaque and took it home. It was magical to find that message, so Scottish and yet so universal, there in Chicago. Of course, Jason’s music touched people very deeply on this side of the Atlantic. I just toured in Ireland and the name of Jason Molina was respectfully mentioned wherever I went – in Rathfriland, Dublin, Derry, Belfast and Limerick. I’ve tried to give a summary of the man, Jason Molina, as I knew him. I am aware that there are others who knew him better, who knew different sides of him. I sense that he was a very complex individual, and I don’t think that anyone who knew him would dispute that. He created a singular body of work in a relatively short span of time and it’s regrettable that we cannot know where his restless creatively might have led next. I feel honoured to have known him and considered him a friend, although an ocean separated us. The memory of the times I spent with Jason and the sound of his voice will stay with me forever. Rest in peace. The 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of The Magnolia Electric Co. by Songs:Ohia is available now via Secretly Canadian


Photo: Ian Allen

Photo: Steve Gullick

As Secretly Canadian ring in the tenth anniversary of The Magnolia Electric Co., the late Jason Molina’s rugged work of plaintive blue-collar Americana under the Songs:Ohia moniker, Alasdair Roberts pays fond tribute to a voice that’s still travelling

Revisiting Magnolia Electric Co.

Aidan Moffat meditates on the one song he calls “the heart and soul” of Jason Molina’s catalogue


he best songs are the sad songs. Happiness is easy, joy is for children; music works best when it’s giving you a hug. Jason knew this, and there’s an intrinsic despair in everything he wrote. He wasn’t a sad man – whenever I spent any time with him, he was a right good laugh – he just understood that the songs that last forever are the songs that help you through. For me, this peaked with Just Be Simple. I’m not one for lists or Top Tens – I’m never that decisive and I love too many to single out a few – but I do know that Just Be Simple will never let me down. It starts with a weep, wraps its arms around you tight, buys you one last drink and then drifts away, leaving you a little more hopeful and a little less heartbroken. I confess a personal empathy with the content; it’s about a man who’s made mistakes and finds it hard to change his ways; it’s about demons, and it came just when I needed it. The lyrics are beautifully written, but it’s Jason’s tender, sublime and mournful voice that, on the right kind of day, might convince me it’s the best song I know. He was among the most emotive singers I’ve ever heard, and Just Be Simple may well be his finest, pitch-perfect performance. After hearing the song for the first time, whenever our paths would cross – sometimes on shared tours or festivals, sometimes when I’d see him perform in tiny Glasgow venues – I would ask him to play it, and he always obliged. I suspect he was planning to play it anyway, of course; it’s impossible to think of Jason without it now. To my ears, it’s his signature piece, the acme of his work; and if you’re new to his music, Just Be Simple might tell you almost everything you’ll need to know you want more. Indeed, the whole Magnolia Electric Co. album is fantastic, and there were many great records before and after. But for me, Just Be Simple is the heart and soul of them all, condensed into four minutes and 20 seconds of divine woe and the sweetest solace.


Dirty Dozen Xmas We ask Kid Canaveral to assess the season’s crop of festive songs, separating the crackers from the crap...

Interview: Chris Buckle Photography: Jayjay Robertson

Bright Eyes – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen [from A Christmas Album, Saddle Creek, Out Now] The Skinny: This is from their 2002 Christmas album, which has just been re-released on vinyl. David: It’s a bit… dull. Rose: But I don’t think that’s their fault – I think this is one of the more boring Christmas traditionals… D: Aye it’s their fault – no one forced them to record it! Scott: I’d give this 6. D: SIX?!? I’d say that’s very generous… R: It’s fine. If I had a trendy shop I’d play it. D: It’s the musical equivalent of having an uncomfortable chat with a distant relative on Christmas Day – unwelcome and boring. Kate: We’re setting the bar really low. Let’s go 5. Future of the Left – The Real Meaning of Christmas [from How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident, Prescriptions, Out Now] D: It’s certainly more exciting than Bright Eyes. They have some amazing lyrics normally – I liked that one ‘where were you when Russell Brand discovered fire?’ This one could do with some sleigh bells though. R: Yeah, sleigh bells would really make this… K: Still, we should go high – 8. Olaf the Singing Snowman – In Summer [from Disney’s Frozen, in cinemas 6 Dec] D, watching the accompanying video and looking displeased: Is he drinking whisky? And why’s he not melting? R: He doesn’t know about melting! He’s never known anything but the cold, and this is his summer fantasy! I imagine there’s a tragic twist… D: This is making me want to throw up. R: It’s making me want to cry! D: It’s fucking horrendous. R: It’s not – if you were seven years old… D: If I was seven I’d still know that snowmen melt! R: 9? D: If you give that a 9 I quit the band. K: I don’t think that can have more than 2 or 3. R: 5! In my shop I’d have that and Bright Eyes, on a loop. It’s a strange shop. Erasure – Make It Wonderful [from Snow Globe, Mute, Out Now] R: There are some big expectations here. D: Just waiting for a big chorus… Chorus comes and goes. R: Well it’s not really reaching lofty heights is it? D: I really like Erasure, and I think that’s making me sympathetic towards this. R: I don’t hate it. It might be a grower. D: They’re just damned by their own back catalogue. Erasure would get a 10, but this… 6. Sleigh Bells – Bitter Rivals [from Bitter Rivals, Lucky Number, Out Now] D: That sounded like Limp Bizkit for a while… R, singing: ‘You’re my butterfly, sugar baby.’ Sorry, that’s really harsh – no one wants to be compared to Crazy Town… S: I think that should get 3.

December 2013

The Skinny: That puts it level with Olaf the Singing Snowman… R: I preferred Olaf. That had charm. S: What happened to us being nice? Leona Lewis – One More Sleep [Syco Music, Out Now] R: Oh good, the most boring woman in pop… D: ‘Five more nights sleeping on my own’ – is she going to shag Santa? K: I think this is alright. It has the catchiest chorus so far. R: But it’s really boring. It’s more clichéd than the Disney song. D: It makes me think I should be panicking in a supermarket. K: I think this might be a 5 as well. We have to give it some points for being so Christmassy… R: It’s so clichéd though! Plagiarism should not be rewarded! D: We’ll say 4. Eminem feat. Nate Ruess – Headlights [from The Marshall Mathers LP 2, Aftermath/Shady/Interscope, Out Now] R: Is that Dido singing? D: I think it’s Dr Dre… S, noticing how much of the song has passed: Hold on, where’s Eminem? Marshall starts rapping; the band start sniggering. K: Can we give this 1? D: No! He loves his mother, you can’t give him 1! S: I think I’ve heard enough. R: It sounds like an album track. D: An East 17 album track… R: ‘Cleaning out my closet’ – ah, a reference to another Eminem song. Either that or it’s something he does often. K: Maybe he does it at Christmas? Run the Jewels – A Christmas Fucking Miracle [from Run the Jewels, Fool’s Gold, Out Now] R: Well there’s some jingle bells… D: ‘Doesn’t get his portion’ – that can be a problem at tables of large families. S: It’s definitely better than Eminem anyway… K: It is better than Eminem, though I think it

lulled us into a false security, because it started so Christmassy. R: I think there should be more songs that mix swearing and jingle bells. The Skinny: Is hip hop something you would usually listen to? D: All the hip-hop albums I’ve got are older ones like Jurassic 5 and The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, so I wouldn’t say I was in touch! Shall we give that 6? R: I think higher. D: OK, 7. It had sleigh bells and lots of words. And he was on about Christmas dinner, and that’s tough. Kurt Vile – Snowflakes are Dancing [from Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze, Matador, Out Now] D: I like this – it’s soothing. It’s the kind of thing I can imagine lying in the Meadows listening to, trying to block out a djembe player. R: Yeah this is good. I’d like to listen to the album. K: What’s our highest score so far? 8? Then let’s give that 9. D: Now there’s only one place left to go… AC/DC – Highway to Hell [from Highway to Hell, Sony Music CMG, Out Now] Playing with decorations, pulling crackers and examining the (rather rubbish) gifts inside... R: A set square! D: I’ve got a wee thimble! K: I’ve got two jokes here. Let’s see… ‘What’s the smelliest animal on the farm?’ This is terrible… R: Well objectively speaking I’d probably say the cows. K: The toilet duck! D: You don’t get ducks on farms! Maybe in idyllic fucking brochures… K: ‘Why did the onion cry?’ D: Because he was struggling with being a sentient vegetable? K: ‘Because he accidentally cut himself.’ The Skinny, steering conversation back to task at hand: So, any thoughts on the campaign to have AC/DC as Christmas number one? R: I think those contrarians are trying to steal


Christmas out of the mouths of… D: Jesus? R: …charity, and they’re missing the point, which is we should be funnelling money into Simon Cowell’s pocket. D: Maybe he’ll release our next album? R: Oh, please let us sign to Syco! D: You’re only saying that so you can hang out with SuBo. K: Just give that 8. The Skinny: Speaking of SuBo… Susan Boyle and Elvis Presley – O Come All Ye Faithful [Syco, 9 Dec] K: It’s not a duet with dead Elvis is it? Oh my God it is… Elvis pipes up. D: Oh Jesus Christ. K: I think this might have to get zero. There’s no reason to do a duet with dead Elvis. R: SuBo can do what she likes! D: For the record, we love SuBo but dead Elvis can go fuck himself. K: Definitely zero. I think any duet with a dead person is out. R: I think it’s realising the dream of life after death, which is what we’re supposed to think about at Christmas… The Skinny: I’d say that’s more of an Easter theme… R: In that case it should be Easter number one. D: Can you make sure it’s clear that we love SuBo? Unfortunately dead Elvis has dragged her down… TRACK OF THE MONTH: Bad Religion – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen [from Christmas Songs, Epitaph, Out Now] R: Now this is a Christmas cover. D: I could imagine falling off a table to this. K: I’d definitely play this album at Christmas. I think it’s really fun. R: Do you think McBusted will do a Christmas album? D: I don’t want to talk about that… K: I think that one has to get 10.



Clubbing Highlights There's no such thing as a silent night Words: Thomas Short Illustration: Will Ballance


ecember traditionally marks a quieter moment in the clubbing calendar, as our attentions turn away from warehouses towards awkward festivities, DVD box sets and rummaging through selection boxes. Don’t worry, though: for those of you who’d rather be grinding inappropriately against a group of sweaty strangers than your embarrassed colleagues at the office Christmas party, there’s still plenty on offer. After the relentless scheduling of big-name events that saw out November, Jessy Lanza’s gorgeous, skeletal R&B should provide a much needed breather at Manchester’s Soup Kitchen on 1 Dec (£6). Support comes from ethereal synth-pop duo Bernard + Edith. Meanwhile in Liverpool, Factory Floor bring their industrial techno mischief to The Kazimier on 5 Dec (£10). Expect abrasive sounds and the urge to surrender your unmentionables; this is a band whose primal grooves regularly convince their audiences to strip naked. (In support, East India Youth’s electro-tinged krautrock promises to be equally mesmerizing, if slightly less indebted to Nelly’s Hot In Herre.) The same line-up visits Manchester’s Gorilla on 7 Dec, so no excuses for missing out (£10). In an impressive booking by Manchester promoters Triangular and Gold Teeth, Todd ‘the God’ Edwards comes to Gorilla on 6 Dec. After a star turn on Random Access Memories and one of the best Essential Mixes of the year, the garage pioneer’s skills seem more relevant than ever. For those itching for some swinging 4/4 beats – or wishing the summer of disco had never ended – he’s your man (£10, £12). One for all the chin-strokers out there, the Slip Discs showcase at Soup Kitchen on the same night promises to be an evening as beard-tickling as it is danceable; there’s a headline set from Heatsick, whose slow-burning sets produce massive psychedelic collages of sound with the most basic of tools. If you’re having doubts, check out his Boiler Room sesh, in which he deconstructs classic house tunes in front of an up-for it crowd with only a set of battered Casio keys for company – that should be enough to convince you. He’s joined on the night by Warp signing Mira Calix, whose esoteric compositions take in electronica, string orchestras and, er, the sound of live crickets being conducted (6 Dec, £6 early birds, £8 on the door). Kaluki celebrate their seventh birthday on 7 Dec at The Warehouse Project, inheriting a stellar line-up that originally belonged to Circo Loco and including original gangster-house badman DJ Sneak, tasteful techno pioneer Michael Mayer, and Hot Creations’ newest star Miguel Campbell (£25). Those looking for a cheaper night out could do a lot worse than to check out Hoya:Hoya resident Jon K at Odder on Oxford Road – his mastery of all things freaky, funky, and disco-y has won him praise from DJs such as Skream and Jackmaster (£2). Or, check out renowned crate-digger Mark Seven at The Roadhouse (£5); his legendary performances are a loving tribute to dance music’s formative years in NYC’s gay clubbing scene. Listen to his Salute to the Men of Vauxhall mix for a fabulous taster. Also on the same night, Liverpool sees Freeze host their final party of the year in the historic surroundings of the Williamson Tunnels for a lucky 300 people, with Christian Smith and Peter Dundov on the decks (sold out, but have a gander on the Facebook event page closer to the




time); while over at The Shipping Forecast, Irish house legends Fish Go Deep show the youthful upstarts how it’s done at (7 Dec, £4). Now Wave’s Sounds of the Near Future event on 13 Dec boasts one of the more diverse line-ups in The Warehouse Project’s calendar, with a headline set from Steve Ellison aka Flying Lotus, and a European debut from his rapping alter ego Captain Murphy. Those looking forward to hearing the cosmic future-jazz found on his albums should be under no illusions: on tour, Steve’s laptop is full of TNGHT, Gucci Mane and Schoolboy Q bangers. If trap isn’t your bag, Beat Junkies founder and regular Madlib collaborator J Rocc will be spinning some smooth-ass Dillafied samples earlier in the evening, while Room 2 is blessed by sets from the ever-popular Jamie xx and John Talabot; the latter’s recent DJ Kicks mix is already looking like a crossover success, testament to his unmatched ability to combine the seductive tease of deep house with melancholic, poppy hooks (£25). Elsewhere on the same evening, a new night called four20 launches at Joshua Brooks, with retro house-borrower Urulu headlining alongside Transmission Collective (£5 early bird, £6), and So Flute bring Eglo records head honcho Alexander Nut to The Roadhouse – his Saturday afternoon Rinse sessions being a personal favourite (£5). As ever with So Flute nights, you’ll be pestering the good people at Shazam for track IDs all evening. The following Friday sees master of the reedit Greg Wilson celebrate the tenth anniversary of his return to DJing at Manchester’s Underdog with Danny Webb and Solid State in tow (20 Dec, £10). Ambitiously billed as a celebration of the last ten years of dance music, Wilson’s selections are sure to keep you guessing, while doffing a cap to the electro-funk classics that he was known for breaking in his 80s heyday. On the Saturday, there are Christmas parties from meandyou at Soup Kitchen (line-up to be announced, but it’s sure to be a cracker, £5 early bird, £7 advance) and Hustle with deep house don Jimpster at The Shipping Forecast (£8). Both 21 Dec, they should tide you over nicely until the festive season reaches a climax. Boxing Day used to be reserved for picking bits of turkey and tinsel out of your navel in front of The Great Escape, enjoying all the benefits of an elasticated waistline. Nowadays, ruthless promoters demand attendance at your favourite nightspots with ever more impressive line-ups, and raving your tits off is seen as the modern way to combat that Santa-esque bulge. On 26 Dec in Liverpool, the ‘people’s producer’ Duke Dumont can be seen at HAUS Warehouse, along with some unannounced special guests, for £25. Say what you like about the guy’s chart-chasing antics; he knows how to get a room moving. Expect a similar incentive for vigorous physical activity at the Circus party at East Village Arts Club, with a return from last year’s participant Loco Dice plus Yousef, Shadow Child and more (26 Dec, £25) – while back in Manchester, Guti brings a spot of Argentinian sunshine to Gorilla (26 Dec, £12, £15). His warm, Latin-flavoured house has a loose, improvised feel – perfect for shaking yourself out of that post-festive funk and gearing you up for the onslaught of NYE. Ticket prices are advance unless otherwise specified; some may be more on the door For our guide to where the hell to go for NYE, turn to page 24


DJ Chart: Jimpster Nine picks from the British deep house icon, playing in Liverpool this month



amie Odell – aka Jimpster – got bitten by the jazz-funk bug at an early age thanks to his dad, Roger Odell, drummer in 80s outfit Shakatak. It was then that he was first exposed to hardware and various recording equipment. By 1990, he already his first release out on London’s Jumpin’ & Pumpin’. Odell co-founded Freerange Records back in 1996 with childhood pal Tom Roberts, a partnership that has since provided a platform for the likes of Shur-i-kan, Ripperton, Daniel Avery and Detroit Swindle. In his own productions, Odell relies on warm pads, chugging percussion and melodic piano lines, all of which were brought to the fore on this year’s Porchlight & Rockingchairs. But, among his peers, it’s his consistency in the studio that’s his most enviable trait. Ahead of his date at the Hustle xmas party in Liverpool this month, Odell runs us through a selection of his current favourite spins, including Xosar, Linkwood and Quarion. Ad Bourke – Prelude [Five Fold Records] Don’t really know too much about this guy apart from that the couple of releases I have of his really hit the spot for me. His stuff is very musical and sample-heavy which gives it an original edge over so much other standard club fodder out there. Recloose – Backtrack [Delusions of Grandeur] I think of Recloose as a bit of a kindred spirit, having started releasing stuff around the same time and both of us having similar influences. His Cardiology LP would be up there in my favourite LPs of all time so to have him releasing his last couple of releases on Delusions of Grandeur is a real pleasure. Love & Mercy – Rainfall (Quarion Remix) [Man Make Music] Quarion is seriously underrated as a producer in my opinion, seemingly always choosing to remain in the shadows rather than heading into the spotlight. He runs the brilliant vinyl-only Retreat label with Hauke of Session Victim fame and his productions always deliver, with this remix being a good example of why he deserves a lot more recognition.

December 2013

Photo: Tom Oldham

Interview: Daniel Jones

Merwyn & Inkswel – Eternal Freedom (Linkwood Remix) [Hot Shot Records] Linkwood is probably my favourite UK producer right now and on seriously consistent form over the last few years. This is a brilliant track full of majestic techno pads and raw, electronic funk and I can’t stop playing it. Detroit Swindle – Unfinished Business [Freerange Records] The DS boys have been ruling things the last year or so and it’s lovely to have them back on Freerange for their follow up to Creep. All three tracks on the EP completely smash the dancefloor and the Crue remix is not to be missed either. Adjowa – Science Soul [DBA Dubs] This is so good. Super raw, jacked-up spacey techno which gets right under your skin and sounds insane on a big system. The Organ Grinder – Changes All the Time [Heist] Detroit Swindle’s Heist label keeps the quality high following on from the killer Max Graef release with this one from The Organ Grinder. Changes All the Time does the damage with a simple techy groove and hypnotic keys stab. Fantastic Man – Heartbreaker [Let’s Play House] Fantastic Man goes from strength to strength with this one for Jacques Renault’s Let’s Play House label. Fantastic Man, aka Mic Newman, goes for a heavier sound on this EP but keeps things deep and warm at the same time. Xosar – Gone Is Yesterday (Xan Xoda remix) [Ensemble] Simple, stripped back rolling house from San Soda here on his remix of Xosar. Not a lot to say about this really but it has the vibe and I can’t stop playing it. Catch Jimpster at the Hustle xmas party on 21 Dec, The Shipping Forecast, Liverpool, £8




December Film Events

All Is Lost

All Is Lost


Director: J. C. Chandor Starring: Robert Redford Released: 26 Dec Certificate: PG

Director: Daniel Auteuil Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Raphael Personnaz Released: 6 Dec Certificate: 12A

Although many were impressed with J. C. Chandor’s Margin Call, it’s doubtful anybody thought he was capable of a film like All Is Lost. Where his debut was a dialogue-driven ensemble piece, All Is Lost is an almost entirely wordless drama that features a single actor. Robert Redford is the veteran yachtsman trying to keep his damaged craft afloat amid stormy conditions in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and he gives a commanding performance as the nameless protagonist that makes the complete lack of characterisation an irrelevance. Chandor’s filmmaking is efficient and admirably single-minded – there’s no ‘Wilson’ for Redford to make conversation with here – and the plot is simply a progression of challenging situations that the resourceful sailor attempts to deal with as best he can. However, all of this might feel like little more than an audacious stunt if it wasn’t for the bold ending; it will surely divide opinion, but it establishes All Is Lost as a profoundly moving meditation on life and death. [Philip Concannon]

Daniel Auteuil continues to establish his position as the world’s biggest fan of Marcel Pagnol by remaking Alexander Korda’s 1931 adaptation of the writer’s play. After his directorial debut, The Well-Digger’s Daughter, and two of his most famous films, Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources, Auteuil now displays a comfortable affinity with the rustic charm and melodrama of Pagnol’s Provençal persuasions. Whether anyone else is quite as enthusiastic about more adaptations of his work, however, is open to question. There’s a lot to enjoy about Marius (the first part of a trilogy), not least of which is director Auteuil in fine form in front of the camera. The cast on the whole are strong, selling a rather trite story with some joyously overthe-top performances; nothing is said, only shouted or whispered. There’s a certain appeal, too, to the noticeably set-bound aesthetic, but, with grimy French faces and faded colours, at times this feels like an extended advert for Stella Artois. Charming, but slight. [Nathanael Smith]

The Patience Stone





Director: Atiq Rahimi Starring: Golshifteh Farahani, Hamid Djavadan Released: 6 Dec Certificate: 15


Director: Alexander Payne Starring: Bruce Dern, Will Forte Released: 6 Dec Certificate: 15

After her astonishing work in Asghar Farhadi’s About Elly, Golshifteh Farahani’s performance in The Patience Stone confirms her status as one of the finest actors currently working. She plays a young Afghan woman who spends her days tending to her recently comatose husband as bombs fall on her village and fighting takes place in the streets. Now that the power dynamic in this marriage has suddenly changed, this woman finds the courage to tell her unresponsive husband all of the secrets she has kept hidden for years. Atiq Rahimi’s adaptation (with the help of Jean-Claude Carrière) of his own novel at times feels too verbose and stage-bound to flow as a film, but its portrayal of a repressed woman finding the strength to become the person she has long wanted to be is undeniably powerful. The Patience Stone contains a number of engrossing scenes and encounters with supporting characters that don’t always play out as you’d expect, while Farahani – in what is frequently a one-woman show – is constantly surprising and impressive. [Philip Concannon]

All of Alexander Payne’s best and worst attributes are on full display in Nebraska. As Woody (Dern) takes a road trip to collect the million-dollar prize that his son (Forte) doesn’t believe exists, the director has the opportunity to find moments of piercing insight along with instances of awkward, condescending comedy. It all feels very familiar and disappointingly flat, a feeling that isn’t alleviated by Phedon Papamichael’s unimaginative black-and-white cinematography. The film’s greatest strength lies in its veteran performances. Bruce Dern’s cantankerous lead turn is tremendously enjoyable and he gets very funny support from June Squibb as his straight-talking wife, while Stacy Keach brings a welcome hard edge to his turn as an old acquaintance of Woody who still harbours a grudge. Sadly, these interesting characters are surrounded by cartoonish figures, who are often utilised as a source of one-note humour. Payne manages to bring the film to a close on a touching note with a neatly judged ending, but the problems found elsewhere make this one of his least satisfying films. [Philip Concannon]

Big Bad Wolves

Kill Your Darlings



Director: Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado Starring: Lior Ashkenazi, Tzahi Grad Released: 6 Dec Certificate: 18 Israeli writer-directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado follow up their 2010 debut Rabies with another tar-black comic horror. While investigating a series of gruesome child murders, tough detective Miki (Ashkenazi) becomes convinced the guilt lies with seemingly benign religious-studies teacher Dror (Rotem Keinan). Also convinced of this is Gidi (Grad), father to one of the victims, who intends to kidnap their suspect and extract the truth from him. The three men are set for a bloody, morally murky confrontation. Given the heavily emotive subject matter (paedophilia, the efficacy of torture, Israel’s role in Palestine, etc.), Keshales and Papashudo needed to be right on their mettle to produce a thought-provoking work. For the most part, they succeed. Twisted, tense and absurd, this is highly skilled genre fare, with terrific performances and superb design. Ambivalence to some of the weightier philosophical and political themes is the only thing holding it back from being great; while one can understand the filmmakers’ desire to debate rather than dictate, one also wishes these wolves had gone for the jugular. [Chris Fyvie]



Director: John Krokidas Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan Released: 6 Dec Certificate: 15 The Beats have had a resurgence of late; Hollywood presumably believes their vibrant defiance can strike a chord with this century’s more indolent disenfranchised youth. The hopeless Franco-fest Howl in 2011; last year, Walter Salles’ languid, wistful adaptation of On the Road; and now, Kill Your Darlings – an insipid retelling of several of the Beats’ formative years at Columbia University. Seen through the eyes of the young Allen Ginsberg (Radcliffe), John Krokidas’ debut feature tells of Lucien Carr’s (DeHaan) importance to the Beat movement. The charismatic Carr has a hold over Ginsberg, which brings forth the burgeoning wordsmith’s creativity, and introduces him to Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William Burroughs (Ben Foster). DeHaan and Foster are excellent, but Radcliffe struggles in a more difficult role to pitch. Krokidas’ empty and trite aesthetic and awkward script of ‘Eureka!’ moments further hampers his attempt to recreate this fascinating, seductive slice of history. There’s a cinematic masterpiece to be born of these literary rabble-rousers, but as yet no one’s figured out quite how to make it. [Chris Fyvie]


’Tis the season to gorge on movies you’ve seen a million times before, but this month’s film calendar isn’t all nostalgia. Cornerhouse serve a slice of alternative Yuletide cinema, while San Diego’s premier newsreader pitches up at MediaCityUK Words: Simon Bland


t’s Christmas, a time for giving gifts and eating too much – however, the season of goodwill isn’t always fun and frolics. Manchester’s Cornerhouse explores Santa’s dark side this December with a season of twisted festive films. The Other Side of Yuletide... An Alternative Christmas resurrects Robert Montgomery’s eerie film noir Lady in the Lake (14 Dec), the dreamlike The Curse of the Cat People (16 Dec), sinister Ealing effort Dead of Night (21 Dec), and the devilish The Queen of Spades (15 Dec), while the sobering WWII story A Midnight Clear (19 Dec) offers a rare moment of reflection during this month of festive excess. Meanwhile, as The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opens on UK screens on 13 Dec, you can take a refresher course on Middle Earth (if you have 601 minutes to spare) with FACT Liverpool’s epic Lord of the Rings marathon on 8 Dec. Once you’re done, why not welcome Santa to the town with an IMAX screening of Robert Zemeckis’ immersive The Polar Express on Christmas Eve at Manchester’s Printworks? After all, you wouldn’t want to make his naughty list.

Anchorman 2 - The Legend Continues

Wait a minute... this just in: Ron Burgundy and the Channel 4 News Team are coming to Manchester. That’s right, Jameson Cult Film Club are giving us Northerners the chance to hear the next big quotable lines early with a preview screening of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (14 Dec). The Jameson team plan to transform their MediaCityUK studio setting into a fully-functioning newsroom, complete with cocktails and salon-quality hair makeovers. Naturally, this is kind of a big deal (sorry) and sure to be more exciting than having ribs for lunch (so sorry). As such, tickets will be dished out at random via an online Facebook ballot – 60% of the time, it works every time – so best get applying at Jameson Cult Film Screening Facebook page. Back to Christmas. What’s that famous festive phrase? “Ho, Ho, Ho! Now I’ve got a machine gun”? It is according to John McClane. He’ll be infiltrating FACT this month along with a selection of seasonal faves: The Nightmare Before Christmas (13 Dec), Batman Returns (14 Dec), Die Hard (15 Dec), Trading Places (17 Dec) and Gremlins (18 Dec) – there’s lots on offer but if you’re strapped for time we recommend two Dickens adaptations, the Chrimbo classics The Muppet Christmas Carol (14 Dec) and Scrooged (19 Dec). If you really want to overdose on that warm fuzzy Christmas feeling, however, the Home Alone 1 & 2 double bill on 22 Dec is simply unmissable. Merry Christmas, you filthy animals.


Heaven’s Gate

Director: Michael Cimino Starring: Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, Isabelle Huppert Released: Out now Certificate: 15


Heaven’s Gate has finally emerged from its own tangled history to be regarded as a spectacular, if flawed, achievement. Michael Cimino’s hubris following his Oscar success with The Deer Hunter (1978) may have caused his downfall, but the skill with which he mounts this depiction of the Johnson County War somewhat justifies an unswerving belief in his own artistry. Heaven’s Gate is more a collection of remarkable sequences than a great film. The characterisation and storytelling is too hazy and slight to support its four-hour running time. But what lingers in the mind is Cimino’s vision and eye for detail, Vilmos Zsigmond’s atmospheric cinematography, and the thrilling climactic set-pieces, which are certainly worth waiting for. Heaven’s Gate may not be a masterpiece, but it certainly isn’t a disaster. It’s a singular American epic – one of the last of its kind. [Philip Concannon]




Director: James Wan Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga Released: 9 Dec Certificate: 15 A mirrored music box out of which trickles stilted, lilting lullabies. Blindfold games of hide-and-seek. An unknown hand, an exposed ankle, the dead of night. Paranormal pest controllers Ed and Lorraine Warren are called upon by the Perron family to exorcise their Rhode Island farmhouse of such horror cliché. So far, so familiar – but The Conjuring adds up to more than the horror tropes it ticks off. True, Saw veteran James Wan employs familiar scare tactics, but with a firm understanding of exactly whom he’s playing to: an audience steeled for the jump-scare; one which loud noises and chilling faces alone will not satisfy. So the scares skip beats; vicelike expectation is expertly subverted and thrills are nuanced – all for Wan to drop the terror every time we exhale, with the joyously distressing effect of rendering familiar fears anew. [Kirsty Leckie-Palmer]

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Director: Philip Kaufman Starring: Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams Released: Out now Certificate: 15

Director: Thorold Dickinson Starring: Anton Walbrook, Diana Wynyard Released: Out now Certificate: PG Upon acquiring the rights to Patrick Hamilton’s play Gas Light, MGM set about wiping the slate in preparation for their George Cukor-directed, Ingrid Bergman-starring 1944 adaptation. Unfortunately, that meant suppressing almost to elimination a British version made four years prior, with this handsome restoration only possible thanks to a single print preserved by its director, and later gifted to the BFI. While it lacks its Hollywood successor’s budget and glamour, such limitations rather suit the tale’s clammy claustrophobia, as newlywed Bella (a fragile Diana Wynyard) is made to question her sanity by husband Paul (a cruel Anton Walbrook). Despite an undisguised staginess and sometimes clunky structure, the material still unnerves, with the abruptness of the opening murder and the mind games of the last act proving particularly effective, making this of interest to more than just film historians. [Chris Buckle]

Streets of Fire

Betty Blue



Director: Walter Hill Starring: Michael Paré, Diane Lane, Rick Moranis Released: Out now Certificate: 15


The original 1956 science fiction classic featured insidious ‘pods,’ parasitic plants growing clone bodies in cellars and greenhouses before ruthlessly replacing their originals, reducing the humans to biological detritus in the process; it was a disturbing, paranoid metaphor for Communist infiltration in the McCarthy era. Set 20 years after the original and dripping with post-Nixon subtext, Philip Kaufman’s 70s update imagines the spread of pod eco-horror from small-town America to San Francisco’s uncanny metropolis. The city provides fertile ground for the cross-pollination of Vietnam’s biological violence, the distrust of authority post-Watergate and the ability of the military-industrial complex to methodically destroy human life by the hundreds of thousands. This is body horror at its most compelling. [Rachel Bowles]

The Conjuring

Walter Hill’s Streets of Fire is 90 minutes of glorious pulp fiction. It opens with two title cards: the first reads ‘a rock‘n’roll fable,’ the second, ‘another time, another place.’ As self-mythologising goes, it’s as flinty and straightforward as the film’s characters, who are a delightful salad of movie clichés. You’ve the loner who arrives by train to clean up the town (Paré), the damsel in distress (Lane) and, best of all, Willem Dafoe as a biker villain with an inexplicable penchant for wearing PVC waders. Hill splices America’s two most garish periods of popular culture – the 50s and the 80s – to create a neon-drenched universe that suggests a Wild West version of American Graffiti shot using the film grammar of MTV. Every line-reading is heightened, every edit is breakneck, every music cue is dialled up to 11. If that mix weren’t heady enough, it’s also a musical. [Jamie Dunn]

Director: Jean-Jacques Beineix Starring: Béatrice Dalle, Jean-Hugues Anglade Released: Out now Certificate: 18 Béatrice Dalle’s pouty visage became one of the 80s’ most recognisable images after she sizzled and shrieked her way through JeanJacques Beineix’s cornerstone of cinéma du look. Zorg (Jean-Hugues Anglade) strikes up a passionate affair with Dalle’s eponymous nutcase while working as a handyman in a beach resort, but grows concerned with her often violent mood swings. When Betty burns down their shack the lovers hit the road, doing odd jobs while Zorg attempts to become a writer. Beineix’s picture oscillates between exhausting melodrama, gentle romance and outré farce with glorious unpredictability. Dalle’s firecracker and Anglade’s easy-going charmer are perfectly pitched to each other; the former, adored by Beineix’s gaze in a frame of bold colours and dancing light, becoming instantly, utterly, iconic. It might all be more style than substance… but, oh, what style. [Chris Fyvie]

Spotlight: Jayne Edwards Stand-up and bodybuilder Jayne Edwards talks to us about performing in spite of anxiety, and enjoying a good cry-hug with strangers during other comics’ shows Interview: John Stansfield Illustration: Camille Smithwick


elf-proclaimed as ‘The Nation’s Beefheart,’ 24-year-old comedian and semi-professional bodybuilder Jayne Edwards is a prolific performer on the Northwest comedy circuit. Bringing an awkward charm and some racy biographical excerpts, Edwards’ comedic talents shine in spite of her timidity. At times she seems like a creation of Tim & Eric, with misplaced confidence and acts of sheer ridiculousness surprising audiences who initially took her as a strange introvert. She is a unique comic who tells us that the shyness is not an act, but something she has learned to bend expertly to her will. Influences: “1970s Bruce Lee-in-hell exploitation movie The Dragon Lives Again. Rhyl. Interviews with bodybuilders. Harper Lee. Talent shows. Failure. Our Lord.” First gig: “My very first gig was at the Lowry in Salford in one of the studios when I was 19. It went as well as a first gig can go, and, as it was such a blur, I’m just speculating. The guy I was seeing at the time was so impressed. I was like ‘w/e babe I’m so

December 2013

confident and funny I need an outlet for my personality’ but didn’t gig for another year because I was actually cripplingly shy.” Best gig: “I have a lot of gigs that I think of as my best gig, either for the performance or the overall atmosphere. But, basically, any gig where they buy my tea is the best gig ever.” Worst gig: “I drove to Scarborough for a gig above a pub. The MC’s mate came over and asked me for a word. He said that what I needed to do was talk about ‘women’s problems’ because then I’d get the women laughing, and then, to please the women because they want their sweet poon things (paraphrasing), the men would have to laugh as well. I was really grateful that he’d taken the time to come over and give me such great advice. JK, I wasn’t.” Circuit favourites in the Northwest: “Phil Ellis. Liam Pickford. Jack Evans. Peter Brush. George Cottier. David Stanier. Michael J Dolan.”

Favourite venue and why: “Group Therapy at Gorilla in Manchester. It’s great to play and I had an amazing time when I got the opportunity to this year, but just going to watch is super. It’s a really nice atmosphere and they always get great acts on.” Best heckle: “A guy once farted in the middle of a pause in a comedian’s joke. It really put everything into perspective for me. “I never remember good heckle put-downs because I’m so ‘on board’ with the comedian and the atmosphere the heckle put-down creates. I go into a weird zone, like, I get high off the feeling of togetherness and victory. I just start crying and hugging everyone.”


Aspirations: “Just to make ace stuff and for people to see it and go ‘that’s ace.’” What you’d be doing if you weren’t doing stand-up: “My nana says I could be like one of them supermodels, so probably that. Or, like, an assistant supervisor of a Superdrug or something.” Question submitted by last month’s Spotlight, Liam Pickford: Why do you hate geese? “They steal sandwiches.” Catch Jayne at Sidekick Comedy, Via, Canal Street, Manchester, 16 Dec @JayneEdwards



Nativities and New Starts The recently reopened basement gallery at Oklahoma is a welcome addition to the Northwest’s art scene Interview: Ali Gunn thing. So I ended up making the clocks with cardboard and got them half decent. They’re limp, but it’s cool.” It is this lo-fi aesthetic that makes Redmond’s work so charming. Drawing inspiration from his lost brother Sali, fictitious heroes like Tom Sawyer, Mr Frankenstein and Scooby Doo, the exhibition is a meander through his imagination. “Lots of the drawings focus on wasting [time] and trying to be cool with that, and just rejecting all those silly rules that a clock can make,” he says. Cut-out drawings are scattered in and among framed pieces on the gallery walls, and it is the presentation of the work that allows you to step into the sense of time that Redmond is trying to create. “The way it is presented is very important to me,” he says. “In some ways it has to reflect the work and the ideas behind it. I feel this show works because it’s in a basement in Manchester.” Throughout December, an interactive installation conceived by artist and cultural producer Bren O’Callaghan, Nicho Nativity, will join Redmond’s exhibition – and will allow visitors to inject a bit of Mexicana into their Christmas. A collaboration with local artists Natalie Dawson, Elle Brotherhood and Bryony Jackson, Nicho Nativity is described by O’Callaghan as “High camp, lots of glitter and an innovative

Grayson Perry: The Agony in the Car Park (2012)

Grayson Perry: The Vanity of Small Differences

Manchester Art Gallery, until 2 Feb


Why do we make the aesthetic choices we do? What influences where we choose to live, what we eat, what we read or wear? In 2012, artist Grayson Perry embarked on a three-part documentary series, All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry, with the purpose of finding out. The result? A series of six monumental tapestries titled The Vanity of Small Differences. A great chronicler of contemporary life, Perry undertook actual fieldwork during his research for the tapestries, experiencing the daily lives of a selection of people he felt typified the British social classes today. What Perry discovered is how, even though factors like age, race, religion or sexuality play a part, social class still heavily influences our aesthetic taste today. Built around the central character of Tim Rakewell, a self-made millionaire who climbs the social ladder of British society, the tapestries’ narrative also notes our destructive human tendency to



focus on our differences rather than similarities. Manchester Art Gallery is the second venue outside London to display the tapestries, which are currently on a UK tour. Keen to reveal more about the research and making process, exhibition curator Ruth Shrigley has sourced additional display material including photographs of Perry’s sketch book and a full set of William Hogarth’s prints for A Rake’s Progress (Perry’s central character Tim Rakewell is based on Hogarth’s Tom Rakewell), providing further context to the thought process and symbolism within these intricate works. The aim of these colourful, almost cartoonlike friezes seems to be to engage and spark debate in audiences of all ages. A unique and sensitive social commentary, the tapestries explore what it is that defines and influences working-, middle- and upper-class taste in Britain today. By poking fun at us ‘Brits’, Perry has produced a humorous and important documentation of society today. [Emma Sumner] Mon-Sun 10am-5pm, Thu until 9pm

Natalie Dawson

use of materials.” The idea for the project came after attending Dawson’s Nicho Box! workshop at The Gaslamp, and O’Callaghan describes the South American tradition – a ‘nicho’ is a piece of Latin American folk art – as “fun,” adding, “good taste has no place. By following the aesthetic of moreis-more, it’s like being a child all over again, before we learn to limit our imagination.” With illustrated menus designed by artist Simon Misra suggesting poses from the

traditional to the contemporary (think the Miley Cyrus ‘twerk’), visitors are invited to step inside the life-sized nicho and create their own nativity. Nicho Nativity is a kitsch wonderland offering an exciting alternative this Christmas. When The Pole Was a Staff and The Rag Was a Flag , until 20 Dec, and Nicho Nativity, 7-22 Dec, both at Oklahoma, High Street, Manchester, 12-5pm Thu, Fri, Sat, and late night Thursdays

Zvono Group: Art and Soccer (1986)

Art Turning Left

Tate Liverpool, until 2 Feb


With over 300 works, Art Turning Left at Tate Liverpool is an undertaking owed a few hours of careful consideration. The exhibition is curated around key questions intended to prompt the viewer to consider the various strategies used by artists over the last 200 years to convey their political ideologies. Wendelien van Oldenborgh’s beautifully presented slide show and audio, Après la reprise, la prise (2009), shows a group of women who, after losing their jobs due to the closure of Levi’s factories in France and Belgium, collectively wrote a play about their experience. The piece brings into question the working conditions created by capitalism and people’s ability to use art to change their situation. In the work of Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid (1994), coloured graphs and charts survey a population’s choice in art, taking a satirical look at democratic polling. Similarly with Gerd Arntz (c.1925-49), whose woodcut pictograms of statistics aimed at the working class were created with the hope of contributing to


a revolution. A visual language not dissimilar to the infographics favoured by governments and the public sector today, it is here used by the artists to challenge socio-political conditions of ordinary people. The exhibition manages to move serendipitously between historical works and projects active in Liverpool today. The Tate Liverpool Collective, a project for young people in the area, has produced You Feel Like a Threat, Don’t You? for the exhibition. The zine, which is available to take away, considers the psychogeography of the space that young people inhabit in the city. This project is an interesting aspect of the exhibition, and shows Tate Liverpool’s investment in disseminating the devices used by the artists in Art Turning Left. Aside from the big names like William Morris, Francis Alÿs and Jeremy Deller, the exhibition brings to light many grassroots projects and collectives that visitors to the Tate might not have heard of. This is the strength of Art Turning Left, and it’s well worth a visit for anyone. [Ali Gunn] Mon-Sun 10am-5pm


Photo: Zvono

ith the recent expansion of Oklahoma cafe’s gift shop, the decision to relaunch its basement gallery seemed like a natural step for owner Nicola Payne, giving her an opportunity to curate local and national artists while also providing the busy café with extra seating. Reopening after an eight-year hiatus, the space launches its new phase with a body of work from Mike Redmond, When The Pole Was a Staff and The Rag Was a Flag. With Payne’s background in fine art, she sees the importance of the art taking centre stage – and the basement has been decked out with all the features of a contemporary white cube space, offering a surprising contrast to the brightly coloured world upstairs. Commissioning artists to create new work specifically for the space, Payne plans to hold four exhibitions a year and hopes the process will “see the artist’s practice evolve, branching into new ways of working as it did with Mike.” The clocks and flags that feature in Redmond’s exhibition are a departure from his usual working methods. “I had my ideas for my lame clocks and I started it proper,” he says. “I went to B&Q and bought wood, I got my dad to use the circle saw at work and I began to sand them. That is where the craft skills should really kick in. I failed. I suck at craft and that’s not a bad

Photo: Stephen White


Unholy Night As they prepare to publish an anthology of ghost stories for Christmas, Emma Jane Unsworth and Richard Hirst discuss the format’s unique license to chill Interview: Lauren Strain


cold, dark winter’s eve is probably the worst time to spook yourself with the tale of a nameless caller, a presence in the spare bedroom, or an empty old house seemingly with a maleficent agenda of its own. Wait, no – that’s exactly when ghost stories are meant to be read; and it was in the spirit of MR James and the Victorian tradition of telling and swapping spook tales at Christmas that novelist Jenn Ashworth first pitched the idea of writing one to friend and fellow author Richard Hirst. The result is The Longest Night: Five Curious Tales, a limited edition chapbook anthology of short, haunting pieces by Ashworth, Hirst, Emma Jane Unsworth, Tom Fletcher and Alison Moore that each bestow a familiar ghost story motif – demonic possession, the occult ritual – with a particular contemporary unease. “There’s a limit to the number of ways in which you can create fiction based around the dead returning to life, so the tropes that come with the territory – disquieted children, malevolent buildings, the ‘this really happened to me tone’ – are all but inescapable,” Hirst says. “The fun part was figuring out how to put a unique spin on things.” It’s testament to the defined, persuasive voices of each of these ascendant names – Preston-based Ashworth’s third novel, The Friday Gospels, was published by Sceptre earlier this year; Unsworth’s debut, Hungry, the Stars and Everything won her a Betty Trask Award in 2012 and her second novel, Animals, is due to be published by Canongate in May; Moore’s The


Lighthouse was shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize; Hirst was joint-winner of the 2011 Manchester Fiction Prize for his story School Report; and Fletcher’s The Leaping was shortlisted for Best Novel at the 2011 British Fantasy Society Awards – that their contributions complement each other at the same time as standing totally apart. Hirst’s deliciously, darkly comic contribution, Drums at Cullen, brings a salty humour to a collection that, illustrated sparingly by Beth Ward, unsettles in very different ways – from Unsworth’s increasingly fragmented, impressionistic In, where the sound of an untethered gate that clangs through the night seems to assume a control of her narrator’s autonomy, to Ashworth’s chillingly spartan Dark Jack. “When trying to figure out my story – which involves a young boy spending Christmas day with the strange family of one of his schoolmates – it occurred to me that the traditional family Christmas, when you think about it, is a bit insane,” Hirst says. “If you brought an oak tree into your living room in May and covered it with necklaces everyone would think you mad, but change it to a spruce in December covered with tinsel and you’d be thought a weirdo not to get stuck in. Why? Because it’s Christmas and that’s what we do. Factor in that each family has its own little customs and rituals, which tend to seem bizarre and occult-like to outsiders, and suddenly you’ve the seeds of a story.” Despite their varied subjects and execution, what the tales do share is, as Unsworth says, “the idea of ordinary objects being invested with

Beth Ward

supernatural threat,” and it’s evident that for each writer – as, perhaps, for all of us – the short ghost story format holds a unique power. “I think it’s the fact you can hear them in one sitting, one night, and take a whole story on board and then be left alone with it,” identifies Unsworth. “Short stories don’t feel like company in the same way novels do.” “The inexplicable is usually more compelling, and usually much more frightening, when it remains unexplained,” Hirst adds. “With a novel you can’t really have that going on: you need to explain what’s what, apportion motive and unearth backstory, all of which demands a resolution. And resolution, generally speaking, is not frightening.”

Unsworth agrees. “It’s the subtle glimpse of something blurry, like something in the corner of your eye, and then you turn to look at it fully and it’s gone.” The Longest Night official launch, The Portico Library, Manchester, 13 Dec, 6.30pm, £8 (£5) Readings in the Northwest: Knutsford Library (4 Dec), Altrincham Library (6 Dec), Ebb & Flo Bookshop, Chorley (9 Dec), Harris Museum, Preston (11 Dec), The Church Inn, Prestwich (15 Dec), Nantwich Library (17 Dec), Levenshulme Market (20 Dec), Congleton Library (30 Jan) See for times, tickets and further details Read the full interview transcript online at books

Letters of Note

Pilgrim’s Flower

Join the Army




By Shaun Usher

By Rachael Boast

By Darren Cullen

The Pure Gold Baby By Margaret Drabble


Anna is a girl with a sunny temperament, trusts strangers without hesitation, and wins medals for her doggy paddling: ‘Anna was born happy, a pure gold baby.’ Anna has autism and lives in a time when no allowances are made despite her condition. She looks no different, how is anyone to know? Thankfully, however, Anna is raised by her mother Jess. Jess is an anthropologist who has a disliking for the National Geographic. She is a compassionate woman with a hungry mind, researching child deformities in Africa from their basic flat in deepest North London. Together they live through the contrariness of life during a time when attitudes towards motherhood and disability are shifting. The Pure Gold Baby is a retrospective assemblage of anecdotes told by an onlooker, who stirs sympathy, not pity, for Anna and Jess. The engaging outsider’s focus is primarily on the complexity of this mother-daughter relationship. The non-linearity of the story, its weaving in and out of memories, lends itself to the over-arching theme of uncertainly and newness. The narrator’s perspective is fitting; while it duly stirs emotion it is not didactic or intrusive. Ultimately the novel is presently and unexpectedly uplifting. [Maria Whelan] Out now, published by Canongate, RRP £16.99

Based on the website of the same name, Letters of Note is a compilation of 125 letters that truly runs the epistolary gamut. There are, of course, a fair few classics: one of Rilke’s profoundly instructive ‘letters to a young poet,’ ‘Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus’, Virginia Woolf’s crushing suicide-note, etc. But there are also plenty of lesser-known marvels, such as the chilling memo prepared by presidential speechwriter William Safire in the event that the 1969 moon landings went fatally awry, or a Campbell’s product marketing manager’s letter to Andy Warhol, in which the artist is informed that he has been sent “a couple of cases” of tomato soup (his favourite, apparently) as a show of gratitude. As with any anthology, the selection is allimportant. Here, Usher has managed to strike a perfect balance: seriousness abounds, but so does charming absurdity: a page after Benjamin Franklin’s ‘pay it forward’ letter to Benjamin Webb, for example, you get a little boy asking Frank Lloyd Wright to design a kennel (to which Wright actually agrees). But it isn’t just remarkably well compiled; Letters of Note is a hefty, luxuriously bound and designed work, and, in the era of the eReader, it serves as a strong reminder of how books can be beautiful material objects, too. [Kristian Doyle]

Rachael Boast’s first collection, Sidereal, won the Forward Prize for best debut and the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry Prize, so her second has a lot to live up to. Here, the verse is quiet, confident, and measured. These are outings in which we begin with the everyday (stepping into a lift, slinking around a graveyard), and we end up watching as the moment slips and dissolves into something more transcendent. Transcendence comes in all forms – from an annunciation (there was an angel in the lift, too), to a scattering of starlings disappearing into the sky above Balmerino Abbey, ‘un-blackening at the narrowest angle / of themselves.’ To that un-blackening, Bolshoy Fountain adds ‘love unmaking itself,’ and then, in After Sappho, love is ‘a moon too new to be seen’ – a case of un-whitening, as it were. All this unmaking, remaking, blackening and whitening happens at the threshold of one moment and the next, of one state of understanding and another. This is where Boast marks out her ground – clearest in Songs, where a poem is not pristine and light-filled like a diamond, but dark and powerful as coal catching fire: ‘the poet entices light from dark / by the pressure of thought and its spark.’ [Galen O’Hanlon] Out now, published by Picador, RRP £9.99

Out now, published by Canongate Unbound, RRP £30

December 2013

A pull-out concertina-style jumble of adverts and comics, with parodies of recruitment materials of the armed forces on one side and a horribly beautiful Iraq war reworking of the Bayeux Tapestry on the reverse, Join the Army is a brutal piece of satire from an artist whose work is subtle as a brick, but undeniably effective. The kind of hyperbolic heroism marketed to young men is replaced with grim realities, amped up to bombastic proportions – 'join the fucking army,' a panel demands, while two shellshocked soldiers kneel underneath, smiling maniacally. The haunting images making up the 1.5m opposite side of the work serve as both a timeline of the Iraq war and the machinery of warfare more generally. Civilians are fed into the system of killing and civilians are spat out, sometimes injured, sometimes dead. Cullen's previous projects, such as his Baby's First Baby, have been misunderstood and this will inevitably experience the same. However, the target of his satire is not the men and women of the armed forces, but the institutions above that would lie to ensnare them. If we keep this in mind, then we wince at the hyperbolic ugliness of the comic not because it dishonours the fallen, but because we recognise how unflinchingly truthful it is. [Ryan Rushton] Out now, available from, £6




Manchester Music Tue 03 Dec


SOUP KITCHEN, 19:30–22:15, £5

Dream-pop trio based out of a warehouse in Portland, Oregon. Could they sound any hipper? JACK SAVORETTI (THOMAS J SPEIGHT)


The Italian-English solo acoustic singer plays a set accompanied by his trusty guitar. JAMES WALSH

THE RUBY LOUNGE, 19:30–23:00, £12.50

The Starsailor frontman plays it solo, his enormous yet fragile vocals all well and in place. THE BOOGIE WILLIAMS TRIO GRANDE


Industrial noise makers from New York, navigating between punk rock and techno like it’s no biggie.


PHILDEL ST PHILIP’S CHURCH, 19:30–23:00, £11

London-based singer/songwriter inspired by fantasy and the imagination, touring with The Glass Ghost, her second release to date. PAPA ROACH

MANCHESTER ACADEMY, 19:00–23:00, £20

The Galaxie 500 frontman goes it solo, serving up tracks from his mini-album, Emancipated Hearts.

The Californian rockers bring the nu-metal nostalgia, as bloody per – playing tracks offa their new LP, The Connection.

ONE LOUNGE BAR, 22:00–00:00, FREE

PALACE THEATRE, 19:30–22:00, £26



Self described as ‘Allo ‘allo! meets Britney Spears, this Manchesterbased acoustic jazz/pop trio put their own spin on the classics.

American doo-wop vocal group celebrate their 60th anniversary with The Diamon Dynasty Tour.

GULLIVERS, 19:30–23:00, £5

MANCHESTER ACADEMY 2, 19:30–23:00, £15



Boogie Williams is joined by Alan ‘The Hat’ Whitham on bass and Richard young on drums, playing soul jazz, boogie and 60s groove.

Drums, keyboard and percussion duo from Sweden, made up of Cissi Efraimsson and Lisa Pyk Wirström, crafting psychedelic rock sounds that collide with catchy pop choruses.

Black metal five-piece from Sweden, taking their name from a recording by the American black metal bunch, Von.

BAND ON THE WALL, 19:30–23:00, £12.50

Thu 05 Dec

THE DEAF INSTITUTE, 19:00–22:30, £12



English folk guitarist and singer from Devon, doing his one man with a guitar thing to suitably fine effect. WILL.I.AM

PHONES4U ARENA, 19:30–23:00, FROM £27.50

Founding Black Eyed Peas member turned solo artist, known for hash tagging #everything.


THE RITZ, 19:00–23:00, £23.50

The Hanson brothers attempt to move on from Mmm Bop, touring on the back of their new LP, Anthem. Now with added haircuts.


Singer/songwriter hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, best known for penning Jealous of the Angels, A YouTube hit and anthem for the bereaved in 2011. ALLA MISURA


Three piece ensemble making old timey jazz, blues and country sounds on guitar, bass and accordion. PAPER BEAT SCISSORS

FALLOW CAFE, 19:30–23:00, £5

The musical output of Tim Crabtree, trading in delicious folk melodies that move effortlessly between finger-picked laments and haunting loops, set against his emotive penmanship.

Fri 06 Dec


MANCHESTER ACADEMY 2, 19:00–23:00, £11

Manc indie-pop five-piece, known for their use of atypical time signatures within a distinctly poppy context. ELECTRIC SIX

MANCHESTER CLUB ACADEMY, 19:00–23:00, £12.50

Detroit underdogs with enough joyful hooks, mischievous wordplay and unexpected pathos to worm their way into your heart. WHITE LIES

MANCHESTER ACADEMY, 19:00–23:00, £20

London-based indie-rockers who started life as Fear Of Flying, out and touring their new LP, Big TV – again coupling icy synths to Harry McVeigh’s sonorous vocals.

Wed 04 Dec


SOUP KITCHEN, 19:30–22:30, £5

Miami trio who’ve been spitting garage-pop fire since 2009, when a run of successful 7-inches gave way to their first LP. DEACON BLUE

O2 APOLLO, 19:00–23:00, FROM £29.50

The Scottish popsters celebrate their 25th anniversary, touring their ironically titled new LP – The Hipsters. BRAIDS

THE DEAF INSTITUTE, 19:00–22:30, £8.50

Montreal-based art rockers, touring with their second album, Flourish // Perish, which was released earlier this year. HUGO CORBIN




More pop-styled rap offerings from the South London chap. HIDDEN ORCHESTRA (MIND ON FIRE DJS)

BAND ON THE WALL, 19:30–23:00, £12

Joe Acheson and his Edinburgh based outfit, duelling acoustic and digital percussion, piano, violin, bass and samples in one gloriously experimental whole. CHRIS T-T

KRAAK, 19:45–23:00, £5

A rare performance from the Birmingham, Alabama resident and weird folk musician, touring Europe for the first time.



THE BAY HORSE, 21:00–01:00, FREE

THE BAY HORSE, 20:00–23:00, FREE

PALACE THEATRE, 19:30–22:00, FROM £24.50



The Milton Keynes-based fivepiece grime outfit embark on a UK headline tour.


SOUND CONTROL, 19:00–22:30, £6.50

ISLINGTON MILL, 20:00–22:30, £10

Nashville-based singer/songwriter Winston Yellen heads out on a Europe-wide tour with his latest album Country Sleep – penned in Johnny Cash’s old digs, no less.

Fill your Friday night with free live music – guests and DJs selected by a different band each week.

Psych-rock drone from the Lancaster-based five-piece, 3D Tanx, recently seen on the Liverpool Psych Fest line-up.

Two titans of the British rock scene share the stage for a double headline show.


GORILLA, 19:00–22:30, £10 (£6)

The Brighton-based troubadour launches his new EP, a tragic (made up) tale of a divisive genius TV presenter, a violent island uprising and the last surviving Fraggle.

A trio of Northwest musicians, performing compositions and arrangements written by Hugo Corbin. SLADE + SWEET

THE RITZ, 19:00–22:00, £12.50

Bedford-based rock quartet touring on the back of the release of their debut LP, Priorities.


Hook driven and infectiously melodic four-piece emerging from the studio after a brief period of perfecting their art. SMOKEY BLUE GRASS


An evening of live music and DJs spanning folk, Americana, and rhythm and blues.


ROADHOUSE, 18:00–22:30, £9.50


PALACE THEATRE, 20:00–22:30, £25

Beatles tribute act. J COLE

O2 APOLLO, 19:00–23:00, £29.50

American hip hop artist, tours his latest album, Born Sinner. STUART MCCALLUM

MATT AND PHRED’S JAZZ CLUB, 21:30–01:00, £5

Cinematic Orchestra guitarist trying out new material in the realm of beats, electronica, classical orchestration and jazz.

LA FEMME SOUND CONTROL, 19:00–22:30, £7

French psyche-punk rock outfit established by keyboard player Sacha Got and guitarist Marlon Magnée. SLOW CLUB

NIGHT AND DAY CAFE, 20:00–02:00, £10

Rather lovely alternative folkiness from Sheffield duo Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor.



Golden Lab Records throw a Christmas shindig of sorts, with the US-based psychedelic raga blues duo, MV&EE headlining. THE PUPPINI SISTERS


Vintage swing pop trio, formed around Marcella Puppini in 2004.

MANCHESTER ACADEMY, 19:00–23:00, £19.50

The reformed perennial Britpoppers take to the road as part of their Greatest Hits tour, playing a selection of hits and fan favourites, with support from Bluetones’ Mark Morris.




THE DEAF INSTITUTE, 19:00–23:00, £8.50

ONE LOUNGE BAR, 22:00–00:00, FREE

O2 APOLLO, 19:00–23:00, £20

Dubbed the female Bruno Mars by pop culture commentator, Perez Hilton, Moya brings her latest release, Lost & Found to Manchester. ALICE GASSON (LEIGH FREDA + TOLU AJAYI)

THE RUBY LOUNGE, 19:30–23:00, £3

Singer/songwriter from Manchester navigating pop and soul vibes with piano-centric and heartfelt songs – launches her latest EP, Rain Gold.

The Manchester-based pianist plays a live show on keys with an accompanying band.

Thu 12 Dec GUN

THE DEAF INSTITUTE, 19:00–23:00, £14

Rock’n’roll outfit formed by the Gizzi brothers in the mid-80s, taking to a hometown venue to play the hits.



The Dundee indie-pop scamps do their thing close to home, playing tracks offa their 2013 release, Seven Year Setlist.



The DFA mainstays tour on the back of their self-titled debut LP, all analogue synths, live drums and intense disco downers – deftly stripping back their nu-disco punk framework into something leaner and colder.


The former Squeeze piano tinkler does his thing, accompanied as ever by his 20-piece Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. THE MINX

SOUND CONTROL, 19:30–22:30, £5

Alternative punk rock from the Manchester dwelling five-piece, touring with their new EP, Hey! Mr Warden. FINDLAY

SOUND CONTROL, 19:00–22:00, £7

London-via-Manchester singer/ songwriter, likened to Deap Valley and The White Stripes – all chock full of strut.


Annual rock tribute show featuring Livewire AC/DC and The ZZ Tops.


MANCHESTER ACADEMY 3, 19:30–23:00, £6

Manchester-based young guns (as in, they’re all 16-17) Seize the Chance headline the night, with support from Bandit and Butlet and Euthemia. JAMIE LENMAN


The former singer, guitarist and songwriter for underground heroes Reuben brings his colossal double album, Muscle Memory, to a live setting – twiddly moustache all well and in place. AIRBOURNE

THE RITZ, 18:00–22:00, £17.50

Longhaired Aussie hard rockers known for crafting underdogchampioning anthems with reckless abandon. ISLINGTON MILL’S XMAS XTRAVAGANZA (TERMINAL CHEESECAKE + GNOD + BONG + DIE HEXEN + RAIKES PARADE + BRATAN + DREAM EYES + RIVER SLAUGHTER)

ISLINGTON MILL, 17:00–03:00, £7

All-dayer event, with the very best psych, doom, noise and sound artists around appearing alongside DJ sets and mindbending visuals.


THE DEAF INSTITUTE, 19:00–22:30, £7

Rock four-piece hailing from Manchester, fond of heavy riffs and the like. CHINESE MARBLES

MATT AND PHRED’S JAZZ CLUB, 21:30–01:00, £5

Nine-piece jazz line-up, playing a free blend of jazz, funk, soul and ska.


THE BAY HORSE, 21:00–01:00, FREE

Fill your Friday night with free live music – guests and DJs selected by a different band each week.


NIGHT AND DAY CAFE, 20:00–02:00, £5

Loud folk from the band of brothers, Naymedici, combining gypsy licks, Irish reels, punk riffs and pounding drums. PINS

THE RUBY LOUNGE, 19:30–23:00, £12

London-based racket touring their self-proclaimed ‘Bourbonsoaked gypsy blues bop’n’stroll’. GORILLA, 19:30–23:00, £10

The Mercury-nominated Manchester trio tour their latest album, Let It All In, the new single offa which finds John Simm attending his own funeral (in a happysad way).

THE DEAF INSTITUTE, 19:30–22:30, £8


SOUND CONTROL, 19:30–23:00, £7

Tue 10 Dec

Pop-loving Los Angeles art rockers, openly drawing inspiration from the mainstream British new-wave of the late 70s.


GORILLA, 19:30–23:00, £12

ROADHOUSE, 19:30–23:00, £9


The energetic Welsh ensemble do their overwrought folk-punk thing, touring on the back of yet another album of indie gems. HAIM (SAINT RAYMOND)

THE RITZ, 19:00–23:00, £SOLD OUT

LA-based band of sisters who build their sound on a whimsy of folk and r’n’b beats. SUNDAY ACOUSTIC SESSIONS (QUINCEY MAY BROWN)

BAND ON THE WALL, 18:00–23:00, FREE

An evening of free acoustic music showcasing emerging talent from Manchester and the surrounding areas. EMILY WELLS (RIVAL ELK)

THE RUBY LOUNGE, 19:30–23:00, £5

Los Angeles-residing songstress hailed for her multi-instrumental ambidexterity; a symphonic embroidering of swirling strings, electronics and intricate beats, sewn together with deeply personal vocals. WET WET WET

PHONES4U ARENA, 19:30–23:00, FROM £40

The Glaswegian four-piece return to the Northwest for the first time in over six years, cherrypicking a set list from their 25 year back catalogue of hits. THE WORD ALIVE


Heavy metal five-piece hailing from Arizona, touring with their latest album, Life Cycles. STORYTIME FESTIVAL: A WINTER WONDERLAND

ANTWERP MANSION, 16:00–00:00, £3

A celebration of creative spirit in the midst of winter, with an array of live music, DJs, stalls and entertainers to be confirmed. QUASI

THE DEAF INSTITUTE, 19:30–23:00, £9

Rock’n’roll duo hailing from Portland, Oregon, made up of exhusband and wife Sam Coombes and Janet Weiss, touring with their 2013 album, Mole City. ALBERT HAMMOND JR


LA-based musician, best known as The Strokes guitarist and for being Albert Hammond’s wee lad.


Experimental psych-rock/garage/soul trio from Seattle, led by guitarist and vocalist Lee Blackwell. NEKO CASE


American singer/songwriter and occasional New Pornographers musician, touring her most precise release to date, The Worse Things Gets.


A mixed-bag line-up assemble for the XFM Christmas party, with the folk-meets-indie singer/ songwriter Jake Bugg appearing alongside the Glaswegian alternative rock lot, Primal Scream. MATT AND PHRED’S CHRISTMAS CAROL (TAYLOR JACKSON)

MATT AND PHRED’S JAZZ CLUB, 21:00–00:30, £5

Taylor Jackson returns to Matt and Phred’s to sing in the Christmas season with some soulful renditions of classic Christmas songs and carols. ARTHUR BEATRICE (ADULT JAZZ)

THE CASTLE HOTEL, 19:30–23:00, £6

Indie rock four-piece hailing from London, traversing genres and drawing comparisons to everyone from The xx to The Sundays. THE WATCHMAKERS

THE CASTLE HOTEL, 20:00–23:00, £5

Psych four-piece from Manchester, marrying 60s rock’n’roll with alternative influences.

Wed 11 Dec PEACE

THE RITZ, 19:00–23:00, £13.50

Alternative indie up-and-comers who describe their sound as ‘music to fuck you in the heart’, which is nice. MK1

SOUND CONTROL, 19:00–22:00, £7

Boy/girl duo fusing traditional dubstep with mainstream production. In baseball caps. Obviously. THE JAMIL SHERIFF TRIO


A dynamic piano trio, led by Jamil Sheriff.

SOUP KITCHEN, 19:30–23:00, £8


Following their European tour with Foals and support for The Pixies, the Manchester-based electro pop trio take their debut album out for a jaunt across the UK.

THE DEAF INSTITUTE, 19:00–22:00, £7


NIGHT AND DAY CAFE, 20:00–02:00, £5

Alternative indie foursome from Oxford (formerly known as This Town Needs Guns), playing a last blast of 2013 shows before their hole up in’t studio to record their next LP.

All-girl Mancunian quartet currently living out their love of the C86 sound.

Piano driven country rock’ from the Midlands-based four piece, fronted by two lead singers. PURSON

ROADHOUSE, 19:30–23:00, £6.50

Baroque’n’roll from the Londonbased psych-pop five-piece, touring their debut album, The Circle and the Blue Door. NIZLOPI

THE RUBY LOUNGE, 19:30–23:00, £15


PHONES4U ARENA, 19:30–23:00, FROM £15

Middleton-formed indie-rock quartet, all of whom have known each since they were the tender age of 10. BLACK STAR RIDERS (THE DEAD DAISIES + WESTERN SAND)

THE RITZ, 18:30–22:00, £22.50


LA-based post-hardcore rock quintet, led by vocalist Jeremy Bolm. BAD MANNERS

GORILLA, 19:30–23:00, £15

Bad Manners churn out the party ska hits, with the larger-thanlife Buster Bloodvessel still gurning away at the helm. CLOUDS

ROYAL NORTHERN COLLEGE OF MUSIC, 19:30–23:00, £10 (£9)

RNCM alumni quartet, perform three pieces written by Esther Swift, all inspired by clouds. NO GOOD BEATNIKS


The latest incarnation of Thin Lizzy – made up of Scott Gorham, Brian Downey, Darren Wharton, Ricky Warwick, Damon Johnson and Marco Mendoza – take their new project on the road proper.


ROADHOUSE, 19:30–23:00, £5

Mancunian punk rock four-piece made up of Chris, Johnny, Kris and Adam. GOLDBLADE (THE HYPERJAX + ROUGHNECK RIOT)

THE RUBY LOUNGE, 19:30–23:00, £10

Punk rock lot from Manchester, formed in 1995 by ex Membranes frontman, John Robb. BRAND NEW HEAVIES

BAND ON THE WALL, 20:00–23:00, £22.50

A collective of musicians operating as a jam band playing around with distorted jazz and improvisation.

One of the UK’s biggest soul bands – and pioneers of the London acid jazz scene – take it out on the road once more.

THE RITZ, 18:30–23:00, £25

MATT AND PHRED’S JAZZ CLUB, 21:30–01:00, £5


American rapper – aka Jayceon Terrell Taylor, Dr Dre protégé and multi-platinum selling artist – takes to the UK for the first time since his sold out 2011 tour. THE MEN THEY COULDN’T HANG

MANCHESTER ACADEMY, 19:30–23:00, £13

Longstanding London-based folk-rock crew in a re-jigged guise, but still featuring founding members Phil Odgers and Stefan Crush on lead vocals and guitar. KEY 103 JINGLE BALL LIVE

PHONES4U ARENA, 19:30–23:00, FROM £25

Key 103 bring together pop acts of the moment for a Christmas bash, including Little Mix and Rudimental. Deep joy. XENIA RUBINOS

THE CASTLE HOTEL, 19:30–23:00, £6

Dancable, high-energy tunes from the Brooklyn-based songstress, touring with her debut album, Magic Trix. LAKE STREET DRIVE

SOUND CONTROL, 19:30–22:30, £7

Four-piece Boston-based band, built up around the staggering jazz vocals of Rachael Price – transitioned to an edgy jazz quartet after they their abandoned their initial loose country endeavours.

Fri 13 Dec ALABAMA 3

MANCHESTER ACADEMY 3, 19:30–23:00, £18

The Brixton collective do their blues-rock-acid-house thing to pleasurable effect; cue teary eyes at the Sopranos opening theme song, Woke Up This Morning.


Manchester-based group playing originals and covers, with a selection of contemporary-inspired songs along the lines of The Cinematic Orchestra and Snarky Puppy. SIVU + MARIKA HACKMAN

GULLIVERS, 19:30–23:00, £6

Double headline show with the Cambridge-born, Finnish-named Sivu doing his singer/songwriter thing alongside the Brightonbased folk songstress, Marika Hackman. GUY CONNOR

EAGLE INN, 20:30–23:00, £3

The Manchester-based singer/ songwriter delivers soulful melodies, chock full of pop hooks and heavy grooves. I AM YOUR AUTOPILOT ALBUM LAUNCH

2022NQ, 18:00–22:00, £TBC

Celebrating the release of their second album, The Stillness of the Sea, I Am Your Autopilot take to Manchester to share the album in a live setting.

Sat 14 Dec


THE RITZ, 18:30–22:30, £18

The seminal punk foursome take to the road again, now rather impressively in their 36th year of being. PLACEBO (TOY)

O2 APOLLO, 19:00–23:00, £26.50

With six studio albums and more than 12 million records sales, Brian Molko and his band of alternative rockers embark on a UK tour to welcome their new LP, Loud Like Love, into the world.

The folk hip-hop duo, made up of John Parker on double bass and beat box, and Luke Concannon on vocals and guitar.




MANCHESTER ACADEMY 3, 19:00–23:00, £6

SOUP KITCHEN, 22:00–03:00, £5

Manchesterbased band built up from an acoustic duo, crafting a unique indie rock sound sans electric guitar.

Following their Midsummer Psych Dream earlier this year, Soup Kitchen once again join forces with Grey Lantern to bring you a late night psych rock’n’roll show, headlined by London trio, The Oscillation.

GORILLA, 18:30–22:00, £9

BAND ON THE WALL, 19:30–23:00, £15



Manc rock quintet led by Sam Forrest on vocals and guitar, renowned for their energetic and somewhat anarchic live shows.

The jazz vibraphonist and vocalist takes his dynamic funk and soul vibes out on the road, joined by his acclaimed band, Ubiquity. BEVERLEY BEIRNE’S SNOW! SNOW! SNOW!


MATT AND PHRED’S JAZZ CLUB, 21:30–01:00, £5

The Manchester-based six-piece, making raucous and rowdy folk-hop, led by the distinct vocals of Rioghnach Connolly. JLS

PHONES4U ARENA, 14:00–17:30, FROM £25

The British boy band call it quits by touring some of the UK’s more, ahem, intimate venues for a farewell ‘hits’ tour. JLS

PHONES4U ARENA, 19:30–23:00, FROM £25

The British boy band call it quits by touring some of the UK’s more, ahem, intimate venues for a farewell ‘hits’ tour. GOGOL BORDELLO (MAN MAN)

MANCHESTER ACADEMY, 19:00–23:00, £18.50

Gypsy punk ensemble from the suitably cool streets of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, riding along on frontman Eugene Hutz lead vocals and twirly moustache. KURT VILE

MANCHESTER ACADEMY 2, 19:30–23:00, £12.50

The Philadelphian chap and his merry band bring it with a set of accessible melodies cocked askew, marrying the introspection of the nocturnal stoner with the exploration of a troubadour frontiersman.


An Englishman, an Irishman a Welshman and a Scot walk into a bar and start a rock band. INEGO (HOUSE OF CAIN + PHANTOMZ + BRAVE THE NORTH)

ROADHOUSE, 19:30–23:00, £5

Alternative rock and pop fourpiece hailing from Manchester. DREADZONE

BAND ON THE WALL, 20:00–03:00, £15

Eclectic UK bunch fusing elements of dub, reggae, techno, folk and rock into their own musical soundscapes. EDGAR JONES (JOHN HEAD + DANNY MAHON)

THE RUBY LOUNGE, 19:30–23:00, £10

Otherwise known as Edgar Summertyme, the bass player and songwriter for The Stairs, resumes his solo touring duties.

Sun 15 Dec


ROADHOUSE, 19:30–23:00, £5

Mancunian three-piece grunge/ alt-rock group.


BAND ON THE WALL, 18:00–23:00, FREE

An evening of free acoustic music showcasing emerging talent from Manchester and the surrounding areas. THE BIG REUNION CHRISTMAS PARTY

PHONES4U ARENA, 14:30–17:00, FROM £29.50


POGUES 19:00–23:00,

Since their gargantuan 30th anniversary London show last year, the Shane MacGowan-led punk ensemble return to a live setting to play their second LP – Rum, Sodomy & the Lash – in its entirety, alongside a selection of hits (aka, Fairytale of New York). PRIMAL SCREAM

MANCHESTER ACADEMY, 19:00–23:00, £25

The Glasgow-hailing alternative rock lot, made up up Bobby Gillespie et al perform Screamadelica in its entirety. MICHAEL HEAD AND THE RED ELASTIC BAND

GORILLA, 19:30–23:00, £15

The new folk stylings of Michael Head and his Red Elastic Band. ÁSGEIR (FARAO)

THE DEAF INSTITUTE, 19:30–23:00, £8

Icelandic singer/songwriter crafting an idyllic blend of folk, indie and electro, touring with his debut release, Dyrd i daudathog.

Tue 17 Dec KYLA BROX


UK-based blues and soul singer/ songwriter, redefining her sound as a duo performance, joined by Danny Blomeley on guitar. THE HOAX (WELL HUNG HEART)

BAND ON THE WALL, 19:30–23:00, £15

High energy blues ensemble, who emerged butterfly-like from a tiny village in deepest Wiltshire back the in early 90s. ANDY JORDAN

SOUND CONTROL, 19:00–22:30, £8

The Made In Chelsea star embarks on his UK mini tour, we’ll do the hiding.

Wed 18 Dec SAM C. LEES


Gypsy-jazz guitarist, known for working with the likes of Yngwie J Malmsteen, Robben Ford, Lollo Meier, and bass legend Jack Bruce. BLACK SABBATH (UNCLE ACID AND THE DEADBEATS)

PHONES4U ARENA, 19:30–23:00, FROM £40

Ossy Osbourne et al do their heavy metal thing once more, touring in support of their first studio album since 1978. THE CLOCKTOWER (THE BEAT MOVEMENT + LISA + THE NOVASONS)

THE RUBY LOUNGE, 19:30–23:00, £4 (£3)

Wolverhampton-based fourpiece of the indie rock variety. DEZI DONNELLY AND JIMMY DOHERTY

ONE LOUNGE BAR, 22:00–00:00, FREE

A duo of fiddle players bring their Celtic and folk influenced sound to Manchester.

Thu 19 Dec


MANCHESTER ACADEMY, 19:00–23:00, £18


The dynamic songstress, Beverly Beirne puts a jazz twist on all the classic Christmas songs.

Fri 20 Dec


THE RITZ, 18:30–22:00, £SOLD OUT

The Birmingham Brit-poppers return to a live setting to play tracks offa their latest LP offering, Painting. LEVELLERS (SKINNY LISTER + CROWNS)

MANCHESTER ACADEMY, 19:00–23:00, £20

The longstanding Brighton rock ensemble tour their tenth studio album. MAMMA FREEDOM

MATT AND PHRED’S JAZZ CLUB, 21:30–01:00, £5

Manchester/ New York natives with a penchant for moody, beat-laden funk, served up with soul-soaked lyrics. Album launch party. TRICKY

GORILLA, 19:00–22:00, £18

Bristol-based rapper, known for his influential role in the trip-hop scene, effortlessly fusing hip hop influences with rock sensibilities, layered over with his halfrapped, half-sung vocals. SUBHUMAN RACE (KING LIZARD + SPANDEX)

THE RUBY LOUNGE, 19:30–23:00, £7.50

Skid Row tribute act.


BAND ON THE WALL, 20:00–03:00, FROM £7.50

Manchester-based ska 11-piece – best known as the high-energy house band from monthly club night, Shake n Bake – presenting their take on Christmas cheer.


MATT AND PHRED’S JAZZ CLUB, 21:30–01:00, £5

Manchester-based eight piece, fusing a unique blend of influences and genres to create a funk/soul sound. THE RATELLS

MANCHESTER ACADEMY 3, 19:00–23:00, £5

Sheffield-based alternative indie scamps led by Ashley Holland on lead vocals and bass guitar. CALVIN HARRIS + TIËSTO

PHONES4U ARENA, 19:00–23:00, £35

Dutch DJ Tiesto shares the stage with Scottish DJ Calvin Harris for a UK tour following their 20-month residency at Hakkasan in Las Vegas. THE CHAMELEONS VOX

THE RITZ, 18:30–22:00, £14

English post punk outfit hailing from Middleton, fronted by the emotive penmanship of singer and bass player, Mark Burgess. DIONNE BROMFIELD

THE DEAF INSTITUTE, 19:00–22:30, £10

Super young soul singer tours her début album, Good For The Soul. THE STRANGE DOORS

THE RUBY LOUNGE, 19:30–23:00, £8.50

90s and 00s pop groups, reunited on stage once again for a Christmas special – Blue, 5IVE, Atomic Kitten, B*Witched, Liberty X, 911 and the Honeyz. Joy.

Glam metal-styled Hollywood rock quintet; back-combed, leather-clad and eyeliner-ed to the max, as per the Black Veil Brides law.

The Doors tribute act.

PHONES4U ARENA, 19:30–23:00, FROM £29.50




90s and 00s pop groups, reunited on stage once again for a Christmas special – Blue, 5IVE, Atomic Kitten, B*Witched, Liberty X, 911 and the Honeyz. Joy.

December 2013


An evening of live music and DJs spanning folk, Americana, and rhythm and blues.


O2 APOLLO, 19:00–23:00, FROM £22.50

Boy band formed in the ninth series of The X Factor, made up of Josh, JJ, Jaymi and George. SOUND CONTROL, 19:00–22:15, £5

Singing songs that spanning the emotional spectrum, from passion to despair, the Manchesterbased four-piece make a go of it with what they call ‘melodramatic popular song’.

Thu 26 Dec THE RITZ, 18:00–22:00, £20

Liverpool Music

Fri 27 Dec

EAST VILLAGE ARTS CLUB, 19:30–23:00, £16


Mississipi-hailing R&B singer, drawing comparisons to the likes of Otis Redding. TWISTED WHEEL

GORILLA, 18:30–22:00, £10

Indie-styled Manc trio led by yer man Jonny Brown on vocals and guitar duties. BOBBY AND JEMIMA

MATT AND PHRED’S JAZZ CLUB, 21:30–01:00, £5

Playing a mixture of covers and originals, Bobby and Jemima will be joined by saxophonist Karl McCabe to produce a rich and rounded sound. FREE GIG FRIDAY (THE KATHRYN WHEEL + LIAM MCCLAIR)

THE BAY HORSE, 21:00–01:00, FREE

Fill your Friday night with free live music – guests and DJs selected by a different band each week. HOWLING RHYTHM CHRISTMAS EXTRAVAGANZA

NIGHT AND DAY CAFE, 20:00–02:00, £5

Howling Rhythm returns for a Christmas special, serving up soul and Motown belters from the Howling Rhythm DJs.


MANCHESTER ACADEMY 3, 18:30–22:00, £8

London-based boy band, made up of Joey, RyRy, Ollie and Jordi. BETE


Night and Day’s local showcase gets the Christmas treatment, with a headline set from BETE. MR WILSON’S SECOND LINERS

MATT AND PHRED’S JAZZ CLUB, 21:30–01:00, £5

A New Orleans style brass band, blending jazz with 90s club classics.

Tue 31 Dec


MATT AND PHRED’S JAZZ CLUB, 20:00–03:00, £25

North Yorkshire’s only contemporary New Orleans inspired brass band play in the New Year, with their relentless, party hard sound.

Liverpool Music Tue 03 Dec BLACK STAR RIDERS

O2 ACADEMY, 19:00–23:00, £23

The latest incarnation of Thin Lizzy – made up of Scott Gorham, Brian Downey, Darren Wharton, Ricky Warwick, Damon Johnson and Marco Mendoza – take their new project on the road proper. THE HOOSIERS

O2 ACADEMY, 19:00–23:00, £10

Now trading as a four-piece, the London-based pop-meets-rock chaps preview material from their forthcoming new LP, The News From Nowhere, due to drop March 2014. ÓLAFUR ARNALDS

THE KAZIMIER, 20:00–23:00, £16.50


The Hoboken trio tour their newest album, Fade, which finds them on fine form, moving nicely from pure doo-wop to fuzzed-up alternative pop gems.

Thu 05 Dec


O2 ACADEMY, 19:00–23:00, £16

Manchester residing indie-rock quartet still riding high of the release of their early 2013 LP, Arc, and cropping up everywhere everywhere. AS ELEPHANTS ARE

THE SHIPPING FORECAST, 19:30–23:00, £5

Indie pop four-piece hailing from High Wycombe, touring in support of their recently release single, Crystal. FACTORY FLOOR

THE KAZIMIER, 20:00–23:00, £10

Alternative indie up-and-comers who describe their sound as ‘music to fuck you in the heart’, which is nice.


THE SHIPPING FORECAST, 19:30–23:00, £5

Brother and sister duo from Belfast making blues meets folk.


ECHO ARENA, 19:30–23:00, £40


O2 ACADEMY, 19:00–23:00, £12

Comedy folk lot currently on their Crust For Life tour. MOTHERSHIP

EPSTEIN THEATRE, 19:45–23:00, £15 (£11)

Led Zeppelin tribute act. MILES KANE

ERIC’S LIVE, 20:00–23:30, £16.50

The non-Arctic Monkey half of the Last Shadow Puppets does his nostalgic Merseybeat thing. STATUS QUO

ECHO ARENA, 19:30–23:00, £43

The original line-up – as in Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan – reform for a one-off series of UK dates. BAYOU NOIR


Cajun 2-step bunch from Liverpool, serving up a slice of Louisiana.


Liverpool-based singer/songwriter playing a much-anticipated hometown gig.


O2 ACADEMY, 19:00–23:00, £6

O2 ACADEMY, 19:00–23:00, £14.50

Sun 15 Dec


Longstanding Mike Stott-led ensemble, basing their sound on a mix of Celtic folk and rock.


O2 ACADEMY, 19:00–23:00, £19.50


Brighton psych-pop band unit comprised of brothers Alex and Thomas White, joined by a number of other musicians with whom they record and play live.


A unique supper club dining experience, with a smooth soundtrack provided by The Eagle Nest Quartet.


English dubstep producer, fresh from his tour of the USA. 80P CHRISTMAS PARTY (DEUX BOULES VANILLE + GODWOSH + HOWIE REEVE + TROUBLE WITH BOOKS + HORSEBASTARD + DJ OUTFIT) MELLOMELLO, 20:00–23:00, £0.80

A mixed bag line-up of musicmaking folk come together for the 80p Christmas Party, offering up everything from French anti-disco to psych folk. THE BLOCKHEADS

ERIC’S LIVE, 19:30–23:30, £20

A slightly augmented line-up sees the punk generation legends take to the stage to share their genre defying jazz, rock’n’roll, funk, and reggae sound. THE ANTIPOP XMAS HULLABALOO (THE ROUGHNECK RIOT + BOOTSCRAPER + CAPTAIN HOTKNIVES + SMOKEY BASTARD) ELEVATOR, 19:00–23:00, £6

The Antipop Records lot present their take on the festive season, which includes a line-up of four punk rock bands, along with party hats, crackers and Santa’s grotto.

Scuzzy and invigorating punk rock, just how we like it.



For this special edition of the Sunday Sit Down Sessions, The Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band and Patrick Mercer provide a live soundtrack for a series of silent films. VAN NETTEN PERFORMING ARTS SINGING SHOWCASE

THE LANTERN THEATRE, 19:30–22:00, £7.50 (£5.50)

Showcase performance by the Van Netten Performing Arts school.


MELLOMELLO, 20:00–23:00, FREE

Liquid drone meets ambient jazz from the Liverpool-based space age improv artists.


THE ZANZIBAR CLUB , 19:00–23:00, £12

East Sussex singer/songwriter adept at melodic pop that pulls at the old heart strings, touring on the back of his fourth solo album.


O2 ACADEMY, 19:00–23:00, £28


DJ Stuart Corry, from North Manchester 106.6 serves up some classic indie and alternative sounds.

O2 ACADEMY, 19:00–23:00, £25



THE KAZIMIER, 19:30–23:00, £10

The non-Arctic Monkey half of the Last Shadow Puppets does his nostalgic Merseybeat thing.


EAST VILLAGE ARTS CLUB, 19:00–23:00, £6


Eclectic UK bunch fusing elements of dub, reggae, techno, folk and rock into their own musical soundscapes.

ERIC’S LIVE, 20:00–23:30, £16.50

THE KAZIMIER, 20:00–23:00, £5

Taking over the main club room and the adjoining garden, Stealing Sheep host a winter-themed party of mythical proportions, with live music from the likes of Bird and Paddy Steer, and décor and costumes centred around the theme of The Ice Dragon.

EPSTEIN THEATRE, 20:00–23:00, £14




English folk trio reunite to tour their 2012 Christmas album, Lighten the Dark.

O2 ACADEMY, 19:00–23:00, £15

The four-piece instrumental rock lot from Liverpool headline the night.

Punk rock lot from Manchester, formed in 1995 by ex Membranes frontman, John Robb.

Tue 17 Dec

Singer/songwriter hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, best known for penning Jealous of the Angels, A YouTube hit and anthem for the bereaved in 2011.

MELLOMELLO, 19:00–23:00, £4





Liverpudlian folk musician, once part of the bluegrass and folk band, Groundpig, and now stepping out solo.

EAST VILLAGE ARTS CLUB, 18:30–22:00, £10

THE ZANZIBAR CLUB , 19:30–23:00, £10

THE SHIPPING FORECAST, 19:30–23:00, £5



Four-piece alt rock lot from Runcorn, built on the songwriting prowess of frontman, Lee Wylding.

Sat 07 Dec


A slightly augmented line-up sees original members Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant touring once more on the run up to their eagerly anticipated new release, The Garden of Meedin’.

Ronan, Shane, Keith and Mikey continue proceedings, some 20 years on since they first stormed the pop world.

Fri 06 Dec

Double headline thing with the shimmering tunes of Pixel Fix alongside Moats’ diy guitar rock sound.


The multi-instrumental folk duo, Moss and Jones provide the quirky sounds to fill your Sunday evening.

THE SHIPPING FORECAST, 19:30–23:00, £9


EAST VILLAGE ARTS CLUB, 19:00–23:00, £13.50

MELLOMELLO, 19:00–23:00, FREE

The reformed perennial Britpoppers take to the road as part of their Greatest Hits tour, playing a selection of hits and fan favourites, with support from Bluetones’ Mark Morris.

English folk guitarist and singer from Devon, doing his one man with a guitar thing to suitably fine effect.

The acclaimed American jazz singer, songwriter and guitarist takes to a live setting for a set of her reworked and contemporary classics.


The DFA mainstays tour on the back of their self-titled debut LP, all analogue synths, live drums and intense disco downers – deftly stripping back their nu-disco punk framework into something leaner and colder.

The Icelandic multi-instrumentalist makes merry with his usual other-worldly blend of ambient/ classical/electronic pop; we do the swooning. MADELEINE PEYROUX

Sun 08 Dec



The Dundee indie-pop scamps do their thing close to home, playing tracks offa their 2013 release, Seven Year Setlist.


O2 ACADEMY, 19:00–23:00, £10

English rock lot formed in Bradford in 1978 as Terrorvision, now trading as Acoustic TV.

EAST VILLAGE ARTS CLUB, 19:00–22:00, £10

Echo and The Bunnymen members Will Sargeant and Les Pattinson team up for their all-new postrock outing. JEFF LEWIS + GALLOWAY, CULBERT AND DOYLE + MOSS AND JONES



BLADE FACTORY, 21:00–02:00, £5

MAGUIRE’S PIZZA BAR, 20:00–23:00, £3

Fri 20 Dec


ERIC’S LIVE, 20:00–23:30, £10 ADV. (£12 DOOR)

Sat 14 Dec

The young blues guitarist does his acoustic one-man-with-aguitar thing.

A genre straddling band that invites many a reviewer to pair together the most unlikely of comparisons, as in, expect a mash up of styles.

An evening of traditional and folk music from a trio of bands.


MELLOMELLO, 21:00–23:00, FREE

Fortnightly event offering up an evening of free rock’n’rollinspired music by the bucket load.


EAST VILLAGE ARTS CLUB, 19:00–23:00, £10

A new showcase event cropping up in Liverpool, shining a spotlight on some of the cities up-andcoming talent.

A trio of bands assemble for this Christmas pizza party, with sonic-force riffage from Avenging Force, experimental guitar sounds from Cavalier Song and slick finger picking style from John McGrath.


The Birmingham Brit-poppers return to a live setting to play tracks offa their latest LP offering, Painting.


O2 ACADEMY, 19:00–23:00, £8

Liverpudlian pop trio made up of brothers, Joel, Sam and Reuben.


O2 ACADEMY, 19:00–23:00, £10

The Liverpudlian Britpop stalwarts play a home turf show with a slightly modified line-up. HONEYFEET

STUDIO 2, 21:00–23:00, £TBC

The Manchester-based six-piece, making raucous and rowdy folkhop, led by the distinct vocals of Rioghnach Connolly.



Sat 21 Dec Sankofa EP Launch

The Zanzibar Club , 20:30–23:00, £5

Psychedelic rock’n’roll lot from Liverpool celebrate the launch of their four-track 10” EP, with sleeve art by album artist, John Van Hamersveld, famous for his 60s psychedelic style. Cast (The Hummingbirds)

O2 Academy, 19:00–23:00, £18

John Power takes his Britpop ensemble back on the road, touring their new album Troubled Times. Black Diamond

O2 Academy, 19:00–23:00, £6

Seattle-based rock five-piece, made up of ex-members of The Purps, Petty Enemy and more. Land of the Midnight Sun

MelloMello, 20:00–23:00, £3

Celebrate the winter solstice with an evening of music, dance, performance and projections. Ali Ingle

East Village Arts Club, 19:00–23:00, £5

Indie/folk pop singer/songwriter from Liverpool, embarking on his Do Robots Dream of Christmas? Tour.

Manchester Clubs Tone Deaf The Deaf Institute, 22:00–03:00, £5

A new night of r’n’b, disco, hip-hop and house, from the crew that brought you Rum&Bass.

Fri 06 Dec Trof Northern Quarter, 21:00–03:00, Free (£1 after 10pm)

Dry Live, 23:00–04:00, £7

Melting Pot

A new Friday-nighter offering up smooth soul and elevating disco. Revolver

The Deaf Institute, 23:00–03:00, £3 adv. (£4 door)

Manchester’s premier 60s party, now a bi-monthly reason to get excited. Expect 60s pop, garage, motown, rock’n’roll. Paid In Full

Black Dog Ballroom NWS, 22:00–04:00, Free

DJ Da Funk taking over the decks for a night of hip-hop, funk and dubstep sounds.

Sun 22 Dec The Kazimier Garden, 17:00–23:00, Free

Soup Kitchen, 22:00–03:00, £6 adv. (£8 door)

Godwosh play a three-hour improvised electronic set, blending ambient sounds with occasional jazz elements.

Manchester Clubs Tue 03 Dec Gold Teeth

The Deaf Institute, 22:00–03:00, £4 adv. (£5 door)

Legendary bad boy, mixed-bag night that invites use of the term ‘carnage’. Paid In Full

Black Dog Ballroom NWS, 22:00–04:00, Free

DJ Da Funk taking over the decks for a night of hip-hop, funk and dubstep sounds. Student House

South, 23:00–04:00, £2

The weekly student house and techno night returns to South, keeping you on the dancefloor till the early hours. Pop Tart

Black Dog Ballroom NWS, 23:00–04:00, £3

Student night delivering cheesy chart tunes and guilty pleasures.

Wed 04 Dec

Reasons To Be Cheerful

The Deaf Institute, 21:00–01:00, Free

New weekly event, with the ever-charming Duncan from Dutch Uncles taking to the decks for a vinyl only set of golden age pop and disco.

Thu 05 Dec Murkage

South, 23:00–04:00, £3

House, hip-hop, grime and garage from the Murkage residents. Play Doubt

Mint Lounge, 22:00–03:00, £3 (£5 after 11pm)

New monthly event moseying on to the nightlife scene, offering up hip-hop, dubstep, garage and more. Stop Making Sense

Common, 21:00–02:00, Free

Common’s regular club-in-a-bar night of hipster bullshit, with Mr Seb Valentine, Benatronic & Luke Warm. Shakedown

Black Dog Ballroom NQ, 23:00–04:00, Free

DJ Da Funk taking over the decks for a night of hip-hop, funk and dubstep. Tuk Tuk

Antwerp Mansion, 22:00–03:00, £4

New weekly club night at the mansion, playing ghetto funk and disco. Erasmus Latin Crash

The Ritz, 22:30–03:30, £5

Long-running club night organised by UKISSocial for international students.



2022NQ, 22:00–03:30, £7

Project 13 present their 2013 closing event, with Akkord celebrating the release of his début album with a two hour live set.

Slip Discs Showcase (Heatsick + TCR + Laurie Tompkins + Mira Calix)

Godwosh Trio

Akkord (Biome + Edmondson + Acre)

For their latest showcase night, Slip Discs invite musician and visual artist, Steven Warwick, aka Heatsick, to headline the night with a set combining everything from early Chicago house to psychedelia. Well Future (Glowing Palms)

Common, 21:00–02:00, Free (£2 after 10)

Guest DJs on the decks, bringing you music from the past, present, and well, future. Afterlife

South, 04:00–07:30, £6

The official Warehouse Project after-party, taking revellers into the small hours led by a selection of DJs from the night. BPM

Roadhouse, 23:00–04:00, £3

A night of grime, garage and experimental bass from the club night turned record label, BPM.

XFM First Friday (The Strypes + The Tapestry + Jo Good)

Band On The Wall, 21:00–03:00, £sold out

The gig and club combo night continues, with a live sets from the Irish rock’n’roll lot, The Strypes and Mancunian garage pop four piece, The Tapestry. Club X Over

The Ritz, 22:30–03:30, £4 (£5 after midnight)

Monthly alternative club night offering an eclectic mix of rock, grunge, metal, hip hop, industrial and more courtesy of their resident DJs. Eargasm (Ill Phil + Zom-B + DJ Craig Tinker + Dan Williams + Michael Worth)

South, 22:00–04:00, £7

Manchester’s biggest deep house night present a Birmingham’s Ill Phil, alongside sets from Urban Sabotage’s very own Dan Williams and Zom-B. Todd ‘The God’ Edwards

Gorilla, 23:00–04:00, £8

Daft Punk collaborator and house legend presents his mashed up, hypnotic collages of samples over lively disco bass lines. Top of the Pops ‘13 Christmas (Justine Alderman + Gus Gorman) Mint Lounge, 22:30–03:30, £2

Get your weekend off to a great start with this healthy mix of dance floor fillers and guilty pleasures served up by residents and guest DJs. Now with added Christmas cheer.

The Warehouse Project: Bugged Out! (The Chemical Brothers + Dave Clarke + Eats Everything + Erol Alkan + Bicep + Optimo + Boddika + Trevino + Gerd Janson + More) Victoria Warehouse, 20:00–05:00, £sold out

Bugged Out! returns to Manchester with their curated WHP night that sees The Chemical Brothers headlining, with Eats Everything, Dave Clarke and James Holroyd also on the bill.

Transit 2 (Amoss + MC JC + Antagonist + Pandemik DJs)

To celebrate the next chapter of Transit LPs on the mighty Dispatch Recordings, they invite some friends to help them make some noise.

Sauce Christmas Krakker (Peter Mangalore + Dave Owen + Asher Jones + Tom Long + Andy Ollerhead + Benny Maths) KRAAK, 22:00–04:00, £3

Sauce go head to head with Hold It Down and invite their friends to make their mark on the festive season, with a patchwork line-up of their favourite disc jockeys.

Sat 07 Dec Remake Remodel

The Ruby Lounge, 23:00–03:30, £4 (£3)

A night of alternative rock’n’roll shenanigans. Girls On Film (Haim DJ Set + Now Wave DJs + Dance Lady Dance)

The Deaf Institute, 22:00–04:00, £8 adv. (£10 door)

Pink lady cocktails, disco balls, glitz and glamour – a monthly club night where you’re free to let your inner 80s child loose. Funkademia

Mint Lounge, 22:30–03:30, £5 adv. (£6 door)

Mancunian nightclub institution – delivering a chronological history of soul on a weekly basis, courtesy of their DJ collective. Clint Boon

South, 23:00–04:00, £5

Mixed bag night from local DJin’ institution, Clint Boon.

Beatnik (Anek Viva Warriors)

The Warehouse Project: The Kaluki 7th Birthday (Apollonia + Dixon + Michael Mayer + DJ Sneak + Davide Squillace + Cassy + Miguel Campbell + Richy Ahmed + Clive Henry + Gerd + More) Victoria Warehouse, 19:30–05:00, £25

Celebrating their 7th birthday with a specially-curated night, Kaluki have lined up a headline appearance from Apollonia, and sets from Kompakt’s Michael Mayer and Innervisions label boss, Dixon.

Let The Freqs Out (Loefah + Chunky + Harrimannn + Mushy + Kalli) 2022NQ, 22:00–03:30, £6

A new night cropping up in Manchester, blending music with art and fashion.

Sun 08 Dec Haim After Gig Party

The Ritz, 22:30–03:30, £3 (Free with gig ticket)

Following the sold out Haim gig, stick around for an after party with Generic Greeting DJs.

Mon 09 Dec Remake Remodel

Soup Kitchen, 23:00–03:00, £2 (£3 after 11)

A night of alternative rock’n’roll shenanigans. Switch

Gorilla, 23:00–04:00, £5

A new weekly event at Gorilla from the people that brought you Bass Face, offering a mash up of house, hip-hop and bass.

Tue 10 Dec Gold Teeth

The Deaf Institute, 22:00–03:00, £4 adv. (£5 door)

Legendary bad boy, mixed-bag night that invites use of the term ‘carnage’. Student House

South, 23:00–04:00, £2

Bringing the undergrounds sound as per, with Anek Viva Warriors on this months line up.

The weekly student house and techno night returns to South, keeping you on the dancefloor till the early hours.

Black Dog Ballroom NWS, 22:00–04:00, £2

Black Dog Ballroom NWS, 23:00–04:00, £3

Joshua Brooks, 22:00–04:00, £10


Regular Saturday-nighter, packed with disco, house and funk, with a dash of hip-hop and reggae for good measure. Selective Hearing (Dense and Pike + Clouds + Versa + Alex Coulton + Reflec)

Secret Location, 23:00–06:00, £15

Selective Hearing return to Manchester for a more intimate affair Beat Boutique (Red Greg)

Soup Kitchen, 23:00–04:00, £5

Underground soul night from the world famous Disco Deviance DJ, Dicky Trisco. Friends in Common (Robert Parkinson) Common, 21:00–02:00, Free (£2 after 10)

Common invite their buddies to take over the decks. Woo Hah

Trof Northern Quarter, 21:00–03:00, Free (£1 after 10pm)

New Saturday-nighter spanning old school, hip-hop, soul and funk. Afterlife

South, 04:00–07:30, £6

The official Warehouse Project after-party, taking revellers into the small hours led by a selection of DJs from the night. Mr Scruff Keep It Unreal

Band On The Wall, 21:30–03:00, £11 adv (£12 door)

DJ set from the musical mastermind, known for mixing a junkshop bag of sounds and bringing his beats to life with squiggly, scribbled animations Social Beat

The Ritz, 22:30–03:30, £5

New weekly club night taking the GoGo spot, relaunched as a house party mash up. Top of The Pops

The Bay Horse, 21:00–01:00, Free

DJ set from Chris Massey, serving up the hits of the decade along with some guilty pleasures.

Pop Tart

Student night delivering cheesy chart tunes and guilty pleasures. Lipstick Tuesdays

Mint Lounge, 22:00–03:00, £3

New weekly night hitting Mint Lounge, playing the very best in bashment, r’n’b and dancehall, with cheap entry for those wearing lippie.

Wed 11 Dec

Reasons To Be Cheerful

The Deaf Institute, 21:00–01:00, Free

New weekly event, with the ever-charming Duncan from Dutch Uncles taking to the decks for a vinyl only set of golden age pop and disco.

NxNw #5 (Bodhi + Sho Nuff Boogie + Sian Bennett + NxNw Residents)

Soup Kitchen, 23:00–03:30, £7

Grizzly’s Bodhi headlines the fifth NxNw event, playing an intimate set alongside appearances from Sho Nuff Boogie and more.

Thu 12 Dec Clouds

Royal Northern College of Music, 19:30–23:00, £10 (£9)


Clint Boon

Black Dog Ballroom NQ, 23:00–04:00, Free

South, 23:00–04:00, £5

DJ Da Funk taking over the decks for a night of hip-hop, funk and dubstep. Tone Deaf

The Deaf Institute, 22:00–03:00, £5

A new night of r’n’b, disco, hip-hop and house, from the crew that brought you Rum&Bass.

Fri 13 Dec Melting Pot

Trof Northern Quarter, 21:00–03:00, Free (£1 after 10pm)

A new Friday-nighter offering up smooth soul and elevating disco. Pumping Iron

Common, 21:00–02:00, Free (£2 after 10)

Mixed-bag night of nu cosmic Italio, vintage avant garde disco and lo-fi rhythmic punk funk, as you do. Paid In Full

Black Dog Ballroom NWS, 22:00–04:00, Free

DJ Da Funk taking over the decks for a night of hip-hop, funk and dubstep sounds. SO Flute (Alexander Nut + Danuka + Bolts + Yadava + Baloo)

Roadhouse, 23:00–04:00, £8

The Rinse FM DJ and co-head of London label, Eglo, takes to the Roadhouse to serve up everything from rare afrobeat, to disco jams. Afterlife

South, 04:00–07:30, £6

The official Warehouse Project after-party, taking revellers into the small hours led by a selection of DJs from the night. Ultimate Power Christmas Party

The Ritz, 22:30–03:30, £8

A new club night sweeping the nation, offering up nothing but power ballads. It’s like one big communal karaoke night.

Top of the Pops ‘13 Christmas (Christopher Dresden Styles + Loz Newy) Mint Lounge, 22:30–03:30, £2

Get your weekend off to a great start with this healthy mix of dance floor fillers and guilty pleasures served up by residents and guest DJs. Now with added Christmas cheer.

The Warehouse Project: Sounds of the Near Future (Flying Lotus + Captain Murphy + Rustie + J-Rocc + Lapalux + Thundercat + Eclair Fifi +Jamie xx + John Talabot + Cashmere Cat + More) Victoria Warehouse, 20:00–05:00, £25

The experimental producer from Los Angeles, Flying Lotus, headlines this Now Wave and WHP-curated event, also making his debut European appearance as his alter-ego, Captain Murphy. DJ Jimmy Regisford (Irfan Rainy + Pogson + Robasca)

Dry Live, 22:30–04:00, £10

Community invite dance music legend Jimmy Regisford to get in on their end of year Xmas bash. Four20 (Urulu + Maru + Kahwe + Olsen + Jandu + Sian Bennett) Joshua Brooks, 23:00–04:00, £6

Four20 launch a new night at Joshua Brooks, with Urulu stopping by as part of his European tour, bringing the 90s nostalgia with his retro-futuristic house style. Frank and Mute! (Mark Fancuilli)

Black Dog Ballroom NWS, 23:00–04:00, £5

Mixed bag night from local DJin’ institution, Clint Boon. WhoSaidWhat?

Black Dog Ballroom NWS, 22:00–04:00, £2

Regular Saturday-nighter, packed with disco, house and funk, with a dash of hip-hop and reggae for good measure. Friends in Common (Emotional Pop)

Common, 21:00–02:00, Free (£2 after 10)

Common invite their buddies to take over the decks. Woo Hah

Trof Northern Quarter, 21:00–03:00, Free (£1 after 10pm)

New Saturday-nighter spanning old school, hip-hop, soul and funk. Afterlife

South, 04:00–07:30, £6

The official Warehouse Project after-party, taking revellers into the small hours led by a selection of DJs from the night. Scary Monsters

The Ruby Lounge, 23:00–03:30, £4 (£6 after 11pm)

Total 80s night, serving up the likes of Bowie, Depeche Mode and Duran Duran. Social Beat

The Ritz, 22:30–03:30, £5

New weekly club night taking the GoGo spot, relaunched as a house party mash up. Tranarchy

The Bay Horse, 21:00–01:00, Free

The Manchester-based music and DJ collective prove their worth as seasoned party-throwers. Expect glitter.

Faktion Party w/ Diagonal Records (Patrick Codenys + Russell Haswell + Andy Stott + Helena Hauff + Powell + Conor Thomas) Islington Mill, 22:00–06:00, £8

Faktion join forces with Diagonal Records to bring Front 242’s Patrick Codenys to Manchester for the first time, along with appearances from Golden Pudel club resident, Helena Hauff and one half of Gescom, Russell Haswell. Dreadzone

Band On The Wall, 20:00–03:00, £15

Eclectic UK bunch fusing elements of dub, reggae, techno, folk and rock into their own musical soundscapes.

The Warehouse Project: The Jackathon (Heidi + Kerri Chandler + Cajmere + Magda + Deertron + Skream + Jimmy Edgar + Jackmaster + Dusky + Huxley + More) Victoria Warehouse, 20:00–05:00, £sold out

Heidi presents her Jackathon club night, appearing alongside New Jersey’s deep house pioneer, Kerri Chander, and with a special live set from Azari & III.

Sun 15 Dec

Haxan (Burnt Offerings)

Common, 16:00–02:00, Free

Micheal Holland and Boomkat’s Conor, dishing up radiophonic disco and film score techno.

Mon 16 Dec Remake Remodel

Soup Kitchen, 23:00–03:00, £2 (£3 after 11)

A night of alternative rock’n’roll shenanigans.

Tue 17 Dec Gold Teeth

The Deaf Institute, 22:00–03:00, £4 adv. (£5 door)

RNCM alumni quartet, perform three pieces written by Esther Swift, all inspired by clouds.

Frank joins forces with Mute! to bring the electronic artist and producer, Mark Fanciulli to Manchester.

Legendary bad boy, mixed-bag night that invites use of the term ‘carnage’.

Gorilla, 22:00–03:00, £3

Sat 14 Dec

The weekly student house and techno night returns to South, keeping you on the dancefloor till the early hours.


All party no bullshit night of everything from classic hip-hop to disco and funk. Murkage

South, 23:00–04:00, £3

House, hip-hop, grime and garage from the Murkage residents. Stop Making Sense

Common, 21:00–02:00, Free

Common’s regular club-in-a-bar night of hipster bullshit, with Mr Seb Valentine, Benatronic & Luke Warm.


The Deaf Institute, 22:00–04:00, £3 adv. (£5 door)

Monthly club night tribute to 90s indie – expect Pulp, Nirvana, Suede, Smashing Pumpkins, Pixies and more. Funkademia

Mint Lounge, 22:30–03:30, £5 adv. (£6 door)

Mancunian nightclub institution – delivering a chronological history of soul on a weekly basis, courtesy of their DJ collective.

Student House

South, 23:00–04:00, £2

Pop Tart

Black Dog Ballroom NWS, 23:00–04:00, £3

Student night delivering cheesy chart tunes and guilty pleasures. Lipstick Tuesdays

Mint Lounge, 22:00–03:00, £3

New weekly night hitting Mint Lounge, playing the very best in bashment, r’n’b and dancehall, with cheap entry for those wearing lippie.

Wed 18 Dec

Reasons To Be Cheerful

The Deaf Institute, 21:00–01:00, Free

New weekly event, with the ever-charming Duncan from Dutch Uncles taking to the decks for a vinyl only set of golden age pop and disco.

The Warehouse Project: Warrior’s Dance (The Prodigy + Jaguar Skills)

Victoria Warehouse, 19:30–23:00, £sold out

The Prodigy present a series of WHP nights, with a full live set and support from Jaguar Skills.

Thu 19 Dec Murkage

South, 23:00–04:00, £3

House, hip-hop, grime and garage from the Murkage residents. Shakedown

Black Dog Ballroom NQ, 23:00–04:00, Free

DJ Da Funk taking over the decks for a night of hip-hop, funk and dubstep. Stop Making Sense (Common World) Common, 19:00–00:00, Free

Common’s regular club-in-abar night of shameless hipster bullshit pedalling is set for a takeover by the Ministers of Common to tackle the Common World energy crisis – expect energy-related tunes all night. Tuk Tuk

Antwerp Mansion, 22:00–03:00, £4

New weekly club night at the mansion, playing ghetto funk and disco. Tone Deaf

The Warehouse Project: Warrior’s Dance (The Prodigy + Shy FX + Jaguar Skills + Hype + DJ Gedo Mega Bitch) Victoria Warehouse, 20:00–05:00, £sold out

The Prodigy present a series of WHP nights, with a full live set and support from Jaguar Skills.

Sat 21 Dec Caged Asylum

The Ruby Lounge, 23:00–03:30, £6

Straight up rock and metal night with DJ Mikee Diablo on decks and a dress code that encourages fancy dress. Revolver

The Deaf Institute, 23:00–03:00, £3 adv. (£4 door)

Manchester’s premier 60s party, now a bi-monthly reason to get excited. Expect 60s pop, garage, motown, rock’n’roll. Funkademia

Mint Lounge, 22:30–03:30, £5 adv. (£6 door)

Mancunian nightclub institution – delivering a chronological history of soul on a weekly basis, courtesy of their DJ collective. Clint Boon

South, 23:00–04:00, £5

Mixed bag night from local DJin’ institution, Clint Boon. WhoSaidWhat?

Black Dog Ballroom NWS, 22:00–04:00, £2

Regular Saturday-nighter, packed with disco, house and funk, with a dash of hip-hop and reggae for good measure. Craig Charles Funk and Soul Club (The Haggis Horns)

Band On The Wall, 21:00–03:00, £13

The Deaf Institute, 22:00–03:00, £5

DJ and actor Craig Charles will be manning the decks until 3am, playing his picks of funk and soul.

Ballin On A Budget Xmas Party

Common, 21:00–02:00, Free (£2 after 10)

A new night of r’n’b, disco, hip-hop and house, from the crew that brought you Rum&Bass. Mint Lounge, 22:30–03:30, £tbc

Mint Lounge helps you celebrate Christmas on a budget.

The Warehouse Project: Warrior’s Dance (The Prodigy + Jaguar Skills + Caspa)

Victoria Warehouse, 20:00–01:30, £sold out

The Prodigy present a series of WHP nights, with a full live set and support from Jaguar Skills.

Fri 20 Dec Melting Pot

Trof Northern Quarter, 21:00–03:00, Free (£1 after 10pm)

A new Friday-nighter offering up smooth soul and elevating disco. Paid In Full

Black Dog Ballroom NWS, 22:00–04:00, Free

DJ Da Funk taking over the decks for a night of hip-hop, funk and dubstep sounds. Well Future (Reasons to be Cheerful)

Common, 21:00–02:00, Free (£2 after 10)

Guest DJs on the decks, bringing you music from the past, present, and well, future. Greg Wilson

Underdog, 22:00–04:00, £10

Friends in Common (Neil Atkins)

Common invite their buddies to take over the decks. Woo Hah

Trof Northern Quarter, 21:00–03:00, Free (£1 after 10pm)

New Saturday-nighter spanning old school, hip-hop, soul and funk. Meandyou

Soup Kitchen, 22:00–04:00, £5

Making merry with the festive vibes, meandyou throw an end of year party to say ta v much for all your dedicated move-busting over this past year. Social Beat

The Ritz, 22:30–03:30, £5

New weekly club night taking the GoGo spot, relaunched as a house party mash up. Rum & Bass (Stay Positive)

Gorilla, 22:00–04:00, £6

Rum and Bass return with their latest monthly event, with this edition seeing London’s Stay Positive topping the bill.

Mon 23 Dec Free Radicals

The Bay Horse, 21:00–01:00, Free

A night of beat laden disco and grooves.

Greg Wilson marks ten years back in the game with a trip back to Manchester for one of his trademark sets, joined on the night by Danny Webb and Solid State.

Thu 26 Dec

The Deaf Institute, 22:00–03:00, £3 adv. (£5 door)

Ease your post-Christmas day blues with some soulful house music from the Leicester-based duo, Him_Self_Her, along with sets from Kaluki’s Flux Groove and Resonance’s AJ Christou and more.


A new night landing at Deaf, offering up the best in disco, funk, boogie and party classics. Dusk Till Dawn Christmas Special

The Ruby Lounge, 23:00–03:30, £5 (£4)

Tequila drenched night of classic sleaze and hard rock to get you in the Christmas spirit – expect Aerosmith, Motley Crue and Misfits to name a few. Top of the Pops ‘13 Christmas (Gus Gorman + Christopher Dresden Styles + Justine Alderman + Loz Newy + Blue Rinse) Mint Lounge, 22:30–03:30, £2

Get your weekend off to a great start with this healthy mix of dance floor fillers and guilty pleasures served up by residents and guest DJs. Now with added Christmas cheer.

Boxing Day (Him_Self_Her + Flux Groove + AJ Christou + Simon Heslin)

South, 23:00–05:00, £6 earlybird (£10 thereafter)

Under and Mute! (Guti)

Gorilla, 22:00–04:00, £8

For this Boxing Day special, Under and Mute! join forces to bring Desolat’s Guti to the Northwest – the jazz musician turned techno legend who never fails to please.

Fri 27 Dec Rebel Music

The Deaf Institute, 22:00–03:00, £3 adv. (£5 door)

Resident DJs spin the very best of the last six decades of controversial icons, from Elvis, The Clash, Chick Berry and Snoop Dogg. Block Party

Trof Northern Quarter, 21:00–03:00, free

Another Mof Glimmers night, serving up block party essentials with free house punch ‘til it’s gone.


Paid In Full

New Year’s Eve (Nick’s Picks)

Black Dog Ballroom NWS, 22:00–04:00, Free

The Bay Horse, 21:00–01:00, Free

DJ Da Funk taking over the decks for a night of hip-hop, funk and dubstep sounds. Well Future (Kickin’ Pigeon)

Common, 21:00–02:00, Free (£2 after 10)

Guest DJs on the decks, bringing you music from the past, present, and well, future. Mr Smiths Soul Revival (Alex Badass + DJ Swing +DJ Styles)

The Ritz, 22:30–03:30, £7 earlybird (£10 thereafter)

The legendary soul night, once housed in Mr Smiths in Warrington, makes a move to The Ritz to continue proceedings. Expect soul, r&b and hip-hop. Ballin On A Budget Not NYEE Party

Mint Lounge, 22:30–03:30, £tbc

Mint Lounge helps you celebrate the build up to NYE on a budget.

Sat 28 Dec

Soul:ution (D Bridge + Presha + Marcus Intalex + Bane + MC DRS) Band On The Wall, 22:00–03:00, £10

Soul:utition returns with another night of electronica meets drum and bass, with the London-based producer, D Bridge, leading the way. POP

The Deaf Institute, 22:00–04:00, £3 adv. (£5 door)

Pop classics in the music hall and glitzy girly disco in the main bar – all of which is designed to keep you dancing all night. Funkademia

Mint Lounge, 22:30–03:30, £5 adv. (£6 door)

Mancunian nightclub institution – delivering a chronological history of soul on a weekly basis, courtesy of their DJ collective. Clint Boon

South, 23:00–04:00, £5

Mixed bag night from local DJin’ institution, Clint Boon. WhoSaidWhat?

Black Dog Ballroom NWS, 22:00–04:00, £2

Regular Saturday-nighter, packed with disco, house and funk, with a dash of hip-hop and reggae for good measure. Friends in Common (White Pepper) Common, 21:00–02:00, Free (£2 after 10)

Common invite their buddies to take over the decks. Woo Hah

Trof Northern Quarter, 21:00–03:00, Free (£1 after 10pm)

New Saturday-nighter spanning old school, hip-hop, soul and funk. Afterlife

South, 04:00–07:30, £6

The official Warehouse Project after-party, taking revellers into the small hours led by a selection of DJs from the night. Solar (Jef K)

Nick picks some rare and private press rock, punk and psychedelia to see in 2014.

New Year’s Eve Extravaganza

The Deaf Institute, 21:00–04:00, £tbc

The Deaf Institute sees in 2014 with a bang, taking over the whole building with their shenanigans. More details coming soon. Remake Remodel New Year’s Eve Ball The Ruby Lounge, 21:30–23:00, £5 earlybird (£7 thereafter)

A night of alternative rock’n’roll shenanigans to help make your New Years Eve memorable – or not, as the case may be.

Haçienda NYE (Frankie Knuckles + Todd Terry + Marshall Jefferson + Graeme Park + Tom Wainwright + Allister Whitehead + 808 State + Bez / Rowetta + Tricky Disko + Herbie Saccani) Albert Hall, 21:00–04:00, £25

FAC51 The Haçienda takes to the Albert Hall for the venue's first ever club night, inviting over 2000 revellers to see in the New Year with the likes of DJ Frankie Knuckles and more reviving the glory of the Haçienda years. Wet Play + Red Laser Disco

Soup Kitchen, 22:30–06:00, £10 earlybird (£15 thereafter)

Taking over both floors to ensure maximum boogie space, Wet Play returns in collaboration with Red Laser Records and Full Beam to see in 2014 with their usual thick fog meets sweaty steam night of shenanigans.

Just Another New Year’s Eve (Kickin’ Pigeon + DJ White Pepper )

Common, 21:00–02:00, Free (£3 after 9)

See in the New Year with Common favourites, Matt Ward and Brad Tallon on the decks, spinning an eclectic mix of everything from hillbilly folk rock to twisted anthems of years gone by. Mr Scruff Keep It Unreal New Year’s Eve Party

DJ set from the musical mastermind, known for mixing a junkshop bag of sounds and bringing his beats to life with squiggly, scribbled animations See in the New Year with long-running Mancunian club night, Funkademia, serving up a chronological history of soul – guest DJs tbc.

Jon Dasilva (Disco Mums + Chips with Everything)

2022NQ, 22:00–04:00, £5

Returning from self-imposed exile in Stockholm where he’s been producing for labels such as Ellum Audio and Rush Hour, the pioneer in The Hacienda’s acid house era returns to Manchester for a NYE bash.

The Ritz, 22:30–03:30, £5

Victoria Warehouse, 19:30–05:00, £39.50

New weekly club night taking the GoGo spot, relaunched as a house party mash up. Nicks Picks

The Bay Horse, 21:00–01:00, Free

Nick picks some rare and private press rock, punk and psychedelia.

The Warehouse Project: Dynamic (Solomun + Stimming + David August + H.O.S.H. _ Karmon + Nick Curly + Adana Twins + Pirate Copy + Max Chapman + Oliver Drops + More) Victoria Warehouse, 20:00–05:00, £25.00

Setting the tone for the two closing parties to come, Solomun curates a special DIYnamic event, featuring a live set from Stimming and appearances from the likes of David August and H.O.S.H.

Tue 31 Dec Afterlife

South, 04:00–07:30, £6

The official Warehouse Project after-party, taking revellers into the small hours led by a selection of DJs from the night.

December 2013

DJ Stu Richards soundtracks your New Year’s Eve, playing a varied mix of funk, house, indie, old skool and soul. Murkage NYE Special

Black Dog Ballroom NWS, 21:00–05:00, £7

See in 2014 with a four room blow-out for the penultimate WHP of the year; with Fabric and Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac setting the tone, alongside appearances from Redlight, Pedestrian and Maribou State. Lean NYE (MJ Cole + Oris Jay + Roii + Kapiche + Cassini DJs)

Joshua Brooks, 21:00–04:00, £15

MJ Cole provides the soundtrack to your New Year’s Eve, with a extended midnight set lined up, promising everything from house and garage to tropical and bassline.

The Future Party (Rook and the Ravens + Mohebbi) Islington Mill, 21:00–08:00, £15 earlybird (£20 thereafter)

Skipping forward 1000 years, Islington Mill celebrate the arrival of 3014, asking what the future has in hold for us? Will capitalism die? Will we go on holiday to the moon? Who knows, but let’s get together and celebrate it anyway, yeh?

Liverpool Clubs Fatboy Slim: Eat Sleep Rave Repeat East Village Arts Club, 22:00–04:00, £sold out

The Murkage cartel see out the old and bring in the new, with their collective of internationally recognised producers, designers and creatives.

The Brighton-based DJ and producer (aka Norman Cook) plays a rare Liverpool appearance, his summer dance hit – Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat (with Riva Starr) – most definitely in tow.

Black Dog Bowl, 21:00–04:00, £8

The Krazy House, 22:00–05:00, £3

DJ Woody: New Year’s Eve

A night of audio visual treats, with DJ Woody spinning funk, soul and hip-hop sounds – and your ticket also bags you a glass of Prosecco, canapés and a game of bowling.

New Year’s Eve (Friendly Fires + Dave Haslam + Will Tramp!)

Gorilla, 21:00–04:00, £17.50 earlybird (£20 thereafter)

A monster of a NYE celebration, with DJ sets from Friendly Fires, Dave Haslam and Homoelectric’s Will Tramp on the agenda.

Wed 01 Jan

Convert NYD (Darius Syrossian + Josh Mears B2B Dan Harrison) South, 22:00–04:00, £12 earlybird (£15 thereafter)

Catch a two-hour, New Years Day set from Viva Music’s Darius Syrossian, a self-described slave to true house music. The Warehouse Project: The Closing Party (Jamie Jones + Carl Craig + Innervisions B2B Dixon and Ame + Maceo Plex + Ben UFO B2B Joy Orbison + The Martinez Brothers + Davide Squillace + More)

Victoria Warehouse, 17:00–05:00, £37.50

The end of WHP 2013 is marked by back to back set from Innervision’s Dixon and Ame, Ben UFO and Joy Orbison and Jackmaster and Oneman.

Liverpool Clubs

Funkademia New Year’s Eve

Mint Lounge, 22:00–03:00, £tbc

A series of events focussing on all-encompassing techno, letting everything but the music slip away. Social Beat

Black Dog Ballroom NQ, 22:00–04:00, £5

Band On The Wall, 21:30–03:00, £25

NYE at The Warehouse Project (Annie Mac + Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs + Andy C + Redlight + Tensnake + Eton Messy + Krysko and Greg Lord + More)

Gorilla, 23:00–04:00, £10 (£6)

New Year’s Eve at Black Dog Ballroom NQ

Wed 04 Dec Medication

Nation, 22:30–03:00, £5


Mixed-bag blow-out night spread out over all three floors, serving up indie, rock, alternative and dance tunes. Bedlam Saturday

Garlands, 22:00–04:00, £10 (£5)

Extravagant and flamboyant club night complete with Avant garde entertainers – where the crazy club kids of Liverpool come out to play. Ellis

The Kazimier Garden, 20:00–02:00, Free

Late night DJ set from local boy Ellis, playing whutever he pleases!

Freeze (Christian Smith + Petar Dundov)

Williamson Tunnels, 21:00–04:00, £sold out

The Krazy House, 22:00–04:00, £2

Staple student night at the Krazy House, with a mix of music across the three floors (think: rock, indie, alternative, dance and a sprinkling of cheese). Stock Exchange

Chameleon Bar, 20:00–02:00, Free

Ease those double-dip recession woes and dance yourself silly at Chameleon’s weekly Stock Exchange. Gossip!

Garlands, 22:00–03:00, £4

Student night with 5 rooms of music spread over 2 floors and the occasional theme night.

Sat 07 Dec Dreadzone

O2 Academy, 19:00–23:00, £15

Eclectic UK bunch fusing elements of dub, reggae, techno, folk and rock into their own musical soundscapes. Happy Mondays

O2 Academy, 19:00–23:00, £28

DJ Stuart Corry, from North Manchester 106.6 serves up some classic indie and alternative sounds. Hustle (Fish Go Deep + Tomson + James Morgan) The Shipping Forecast, 22:00–03:00, £4

Innervisions’ Fish Go Deep head up this month’s Hustle, bringing the deep house sounds built on 25 years of experience.

Chameleon Bar, 20:00–02:00, Free

Ease those double-dip recession woes and dance yourself silly at Chameleon’s weekly Stock Exchange. Gossip!

Garlands, 22:00–03:00, £4

Student night with 5 rooms of music spread over 2 floors and the occasional theme night.

Sat 21 Dec

Hustle Xmas Party (Jimpster)

The Shipping Forecast, 22:30–03:00, £8

For their Xmas bash, Hustle invite the Freerange Records head honcho down to the hold for a night creeping over to the deeper end of electronic house. Rage

The Krazy House, 22:00–05:00, £3

Wed 11 Dec Medication

Nation, 22:30–03:00, £5

Award-winning student night serving up three rooms of house, electro, chart and r’n’b – complete with visuals and occasional fancy dress. No-Wave Social Club

Brooklyn Mixer, 21:00–02:00, Free

Alternative indie and hip-hop night from the No-Wave bunch, expect the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Hot Chip and Pixies.

Thu 12 Dec Time Square

The Krazy House, 22:00–04:00, £2

Staple student night at the Krazy House, with a mix of music across the three floors (think: rock, indie, alternative, dance and a sprinkling of cheese). Stock Exchange

Garlands, 22:00–03:00, £4

Time Square

Stock Exchange

Extravagant and flamboyant club night complete with Avant garde entertainers – where the crazy club kids of Liverpool come out to play.

Brooklyn Mixer, 21:00–02:00, Free

Thu 05 Dec

The Krazy House, 22:00–04:00, £2

Staple student night at the Krazy House, with a mix of music across the three floors (think: rock, indie, alternative, dance and a sprinkling of cheese).

Taking to the cavernous Stevenson Tunnels, Freeze present the house/techno producer, Christian Smith, returning to play a set following his appearance in 2012.

Ease those double-dip recession woes and dance yourself silly at Chameleon’s weekly Stock Exchange.

No-Wave Social Club

Time Square

Mixed-bag blow-out night spread out over all three floors, serving up indie, rock, alternative and dance tunes.

Award-winning student night serving up three rooms of house, electro, chart and r’n’b – complete with visuals and occasional fancy dress. Alternative indie and hip-hop night from the No-Wave bunch, expect the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Hot Chip and Pixies.

Thu 19 Dec

Chameleon Bar, 20:00–02:00, Free


Bedlam Saturday

Garlands, 22:00–04:00, £10 (£5)

HIVE (Dialogue Disco Supreme Team)

The Kazimier Garden, 20:00–02:00, Free

HIVE host their Christmas party, with sounds from the Dialogue Disco Supreme Team and the Boogiedown Visuals Crew.

Thu 26 Dec

Circus (Loco Dice + Yousef + Appollonia + Shonky B2B Dan Ghencia B2B Dyed Soundorom + Robert Dietz + Shadow Child + Lewis Boardman + Scott Lewis)

East Village Arts Club, 22:00–04:00, £25

Yousef is joined by German producer, Loco Dice, long-time resident at Tribehouse in his native Düsseldorf.

mumu Boxing Night (Joseph Capriati + Jan Krueger + John Heckle + Dale Howard + Lee Rands + Henry St Social + Scott Grant + Chris McGee)

Secret Location, 20:00–04:30, £20

Sat 14 Dec

Liverpool-based electronic and techno promoters, mUmU, invites Italian producer, Joseph Capriati to headline this Boxing Night event, with an appearance from electronic pioneer, John Heckle.

The Krazy House, 22:00–05:00, £3

Fri 27 Dec

Student night with 5 rooms of music spread over 2 floors and the occasional theme night. Rage

23.59 NYE (Lewis Boardman + Scott Lewis) The Shipping Forecast, 22:00–03:00, £5

Circus residents Lewis Boardman and Scott Lewis provide the soundtrack to your new year, serving up underground house. NYE at Mello! (Mellodigy)

MelloMello, 20:00–02:00, Free

Quite possibly the *only* place offering a free place to see in the new year, with stacks of wax expertly spun by Mellodigy. Chibuku + Abandon Silence

East Village Arts Club, 22:00–04:00, £15

Liverpool-based clubbing giants, Chibuku and Abandon Silence join forces for a New Year’s Eve bash, blending Chibuku’s eclectic and experimental vibes with Abandon Silence’s electronic leaning. Bedlam NYE White Party

Garlands, 22:00–06:00, £15

The usual Saturday night Bedlam, goes all fancy for a special New Years Eve white party.

Wed 01 Jan

Kitchen Street Pop Up Street Party

Kitchen Street , 14:00–02:00, £8

Your New Year’s Day hangover will be spent in good company this year, as the Baltic Triangle-based workshop-turned-music-haven plays host to 12 hours of beats courtesy of Shelter’s Henry Street Social, the Carpe Diem Collective and Allen&Hutch of Waxxx.

Manchester Theatre Contact Mother’s Ruin

6 Dec, 7:30pm – 10:00pm, £9 (£5)

A creative collision of cabaret, live art and film starring Gerry Potter, Eggs Collective, The Bobbysocks, Dick n Beds and more. CYAC: Advent Avenue

12–14 Dec, times vary, £11 (£6)

Contact’s Young Actors Company present a Christmas show that blurs the lines between real and fantasy, set on Christmas Eve as the children of Advent Avenue are banished to the attic where something lurks in the shadows.

Gorilla Upclose II

4 Dec, 7:00pm – 11:00pm, £10 (£6)

A jaunt into the world of Berlin cabaret between 1900 and 1933 and beyond, with Mary Carewe’s voice carrying the darkly entertaining programme, along with Camerata principal players.

Horizon Christmas Party (M-Zone + MC Storm + Joey Riot + Mark Eg + Kurt + Destructive Tendencies + Big Worm)

Opera House

O2 Academy, 21:00–05:00, £17

Garlands, 22:00–04:00, £10 (£5)

Extravagant and flamboyant club night complete with Avant garde entertainers – where the crazy club kids of Liverpool come out to play.

The North West’s longest running hardcore event sees in the festive season with a live set from hardtrance pioneer M-Zone and the rather fittingly named, MC Storm.

The rags to riches tale of a young man and his cat, setting out on a quest to seek their fortune – starring CBeebies’ Ben Faulks as Dick Whittington, and Pudsey the dancing dog.

Tue 17 Dec

Sat 28 Dec


Epstein Theatre, 20:00–23:00, £14

English folk trio reunite to tour their 2012 Christmas album, Lighten the Dark.

Wed 18 Dec Medication

Nation, 22:30–03:00, £5

Award-winning student night serving up three rooms of house, electro, chart and r’n’b – complete with visuals and occasional fancy dress. No-Wave Social Club

Brooklyn Mixer, 21:00–02:00, Free

Alternative indie and hip-hop night from the No-Wave bunch, expect the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Hot Chip and Pixies.


The Krazy House, 22:00–05:00, £3

Mixed-bag blow-out night spread out over all three floors, serving up indie, rock, alternative and dance tunes. Bedlam Saturday

Garlands, 22:00–04:00, £10 (£5)

Extravagant and flamboyant club night complete with Avant garde entertainers – where the crazy club kids of Liverpool come out to play.

Tue 31 Dec

Speakeasy NYE Party

The Kazimier, 19:00–02:00, £tbc

Party like its 1929 with the Speakeasy NYE party.

Phones4u Arena Peter Pan: The Never Ending Story

29–30 Dec, times vary, From £20

Peter returns from London to the Lost Children who recount his adventures in Neverland. Will he stay or join Wendy’s family and grow up? Starring Stacey Solomon as Tinkerbell. Diversity

11 Dec, times vary, prices vary

The British street dance troupe and winners of Britain’s Got Talent 2009 take their show on the road.

Royal Exchange Theatre That Day We Sang

various dates between 5 Dec and 18 Jan, times vary, From £10

First seen when commissioned for the 2011 Manchester International Festival, That Day We Sang returns to the stage, bringing with it all the charm and nostalgia that Victoria Wood intended for her heart-felt love letter to Manchester. The Adventure

11–21 Dec, not 15, 20, times vary, £10

Children’s promenade theatre performance created by Bad Physics – join a gang of young detectives as they get all Scooby Doo on the case of the missing scientist, with a little help from his two children and an incompetent story teller. Mavis Sparkle

Mixed-bag blow-out night spread out over all three floors, serving up indie, rock, alternative and dance tunes. Bedlam Saturday


Dick Whittington

6 Dec – 5 Jan, not 11 Dec, 18 Dec, 25 Dec, 1 Jan, times vary, From £10

Palace Theatre West Side Story

various dates between 11 Dec and 4 Jan, times vary, From £15

The Broadway musical favourite – featuring lyrics by Stephen Sondheim – returns to the stage 50-odd years after Jerome Robbins transposed a timeless tale of romance and rivalry to the streets of New York. Christmas in New York

7 Dec, 7:30pm – 10:30pm, From £20

A chocolate box style arrangement of musical hits, headlined by leading lady Eden Espinosa, best known for her role in the hit musical, Wicked.

23–29 Dec, not 25, times vary, £12 (£10)

Magical, festive production following Mavis Sparkle, daughter of a magician and a stargazer, in the search for a new job, which takes her back to the magic of her childhood.

Royal Northern College of Music Images: The Musical

20–21 Dec, times vary, £10 (£8)

A thought-provoking new musical, following six individuals after they’ve left school and fall in to various images and stereotypes – society’s paradigms are explored through careful deconstruction of these images.

The Dancehouse Manchester City Ballet: Swan Lake

5–7 Dec, times vary, prices vary

The Manchester City Ballet company perform their own reimagining of Tchaikovsky’s classic love story, following Prince Siegfried as he meets and falls in love with Odette, the beautiful Swan Queen. Cinderella

various dates between 16 Dec and 29 Dec, times vary, £12 (£8)

The Dancehouse take on this classic pantomime, getting us all geared up for the festive season, telling the story of Cinders, her ugly step sisters, wicked step mother and run in with a dashing prince.

The King’s Arms Little Shop Of Horrors

3–22 Dec, not 9, 16, times vary, £12 (£10)

Comedy rock musical written by Alan Menkin and Howard Ashman and brought to the stage by Assembled Junk, telling the tale of a hapless florist as he raises a plant that feeds on human flesh.

The Lowry Studio

The Night Before Christmas

17–28 Dec, not 25, times vary, From £6

Magical storytelling adventure for children aged three to eight, telling the story of a mischievous elf in Santa’s workshop, secretly hiding away toys for himself. The Lost Present

29–30 Dec, times vary, £8.50

The story of Elva, a lost Christmas present on a quest to find her new best friend, brought to life with puppets and original music.

The Lowry: Lyric Theatre War Horse

28 Nov-18 Jan, Times Vary, From £20

War Horse returns to Manchester, telling the story of Albert and his beloved horse, Joey, adapted from Michael Morpurgo's novel.

The Lowry: Quays Theatre Wanted! Robin Hood

various dates between 29 Nov and 11 Jan, times vary, prices vary

A family-friendly new adaptation of Robin Hood – arriving just in time for the festive season – following a fearsome soldier on his return to the rule-ridden Nottingham, and the band of outlaws in Sherwood forest, gearing up to fight for vengeance.

The Plaza

Dick Whittington: Extravaganza Productions

6 Dec – 5 Jan, not 9 Dec, 17 Dec, 25 Dec, 1 Jan, times vary, prices vary

The rags to riches tale of a young boy and his trusty cat, Tommy as they venture to London where the streets are paved with Gold.

Three Minute Theatre

Christmas Sorority Massacre

16–21 Dec, 7:30pm – 10:30pm, prices vary

Comedy horror from Vertigo Theatre, serving up a laugh-outloud production about the ditzy sorority girls and hapless jocks of Backward Falls in the midst of a massacre at the hands of a psychotic killer.

Liverpool Theatre Blackburne House Finding Wonderland

17–21 Dec, times vary, prices vary

Blackburne House host their first show in 30 years, celebrating the inspiring women of Liverpool with a winter show chock full of circus performers, illusions and dance.

Echo Arena New Jersey Nights

5 Dec, 8:00pm – 11:00pm, £36.50

Singalong musical journey celebrating the greatest hits of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Diversity

4 Dec, times vary, prices vary

The British street dance troupe and winners of Britain’s Got Talent 2009 take their show on the road.

Epstein Theatre Buddy Holly

5 Dec, 7:30pm – 11:00pm, £15

Buddy Holly tribute show.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: LHK

various dates between 27 Nov and 5 Jan, times vary, £16

Family-friendly Christmas panto production of the much-loved classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, starring Crissy Rock and Amanda Harrington.

Liverpool Empire Cats

26 Nov – 7 Dec, not 1 Dec, times vary, From £10

New adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s favourited production, adapted from T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. And featuring cats. Loadsae human-sized cats.


Impropriety 5th Birthday

18 Dec, 7:30pm – 11:00pm, Free

The Impropriety bunch present an evening of vaguely festive and made up nonsense.



Royal Court Theatre

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Fazakerley

various dates between 22 Nov and 11 Jan, times vary, £14


A journey into the absurd, just in time for the festive season, taking the audience on a romp through space with an all-singing, all-dancing cast.

Fri 06 Dec

The Lantern Theatre

The Comedy Store, 19:00–21:00, £18 (£9)

Tommy Cooper Christmas Special

16–21 Dec, times vary, prices vary

West End star Danny Taylor takes on the role of Tommy Cooper for this Christmas special production crammed with all of his classic jokes. Zagmuth

21 Dec – 4 Jan, not 22 Dec, 24 Dec, 25 Dec, 26 Dec, times vary, £10.50 (£8.50)

Take a Hint theatre present a magical Christmas show, promising to serve up a slice of warm, fuzzy festive feelings.

The Liverpool Actors Studio Theatre Little Red Riding Hood

3–21 Dec, not 9, 16, times vary, prices vary

A festive production of Little Red Riding Hood, re-imagined with Little Red as an A grade student, mum as a has-been club singer, Grandma as a QVC-loving new age healer, and the whole family brought together following a visit from a sinister stranger.

The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts 2013 Christmas Variety Show 5 Dec, 7:00pm – 10:00pm, £6 (£3)

Students and graduates of the LIPA junior academy provide an all-singing, all-dancing night of entertainment, crammed with Yuletide goodies. The Comedy of Errors

5–7 Dec, times vary, £sold out

A re-jigged, updated version of Shakespeare’s much-loved comedy, a fast-paced tale of family, long journeys and a messy mystery to be unravelled.

The Playhouse Aladdin

various dates between 29 Nov and 18 Jan, times vary, From £10

A rock’n’roll panto adaptation of Aladdin, complete with a rave in a cave and some frothy dance moves.

Manchester Tue 03 Dec

The Worst Comedy Night in Salford

The King’s Arms, 20:00–00:00, Free

Keeping expectations low with this open mic night of stand up, all are welcome to give it a bash.

Wed 04 Dec

The Best in Stand Up (Tony Burgess + Jeff Innocent + MC Dave Williams)

The Comedy Store, 20:00–23:00, £10 (£5)

Regular night of stand up with an ever-changing line-up of quality comedians. The Alternative

The Black Lion, 19:30–23:00, £5 (£4)

An alternative comedy night, cropping up on the first Wednesday of every month, showcasing fresh names alongside established talent.

Thu 05 Dec

The Best in Stand Up (Jeff Innocent + Tony Burgess + MC Dave Williams) The Comedy Store, 20:00–23:00, £12 (£6)

Regular night of stand up with an ever-changing line-up of quality comedians.

The Best in Stand Up (Jeff Innocent + Dave Fulton + Steve Gribbin + Tony Burgess + MC Dave Williams)

Regular night of stand up with an ever-changing line-up of quality comedians.

The Best in Stand Up (Jeff Innocent + Dave Fulton + Steve Gribbin + Tony Burgess + MC Dave Williams)

The Comedy Store, 21:30–23:30, £18 (£9)

Regular night of stand up with an ever-changing line-up of quality comedians.


The Best in Stand Up (Steve Hughes + Jo Caulfield + Danny McLoughlin + MC Jason Cook)

The Comedy Store, 21:30–23:30, £22 (£11)

Regular night of stand up with an ever-changing line-up of quality comedians. The Best in Stand Up (Steve Hughes + Jo Caulfield + Danny McLoughlin + MC Jason Cook)

The Comedy Store, 19:00–21:00, £22 (£11)

Regular night of stand up with an ever-changing line-up of quality comedians.

Phones4u Arena, 20:00–23:00, £22.50

Sham Bodie (Brown Brogues + Rachel Fairburn + Norris and Parker + Father Christmas + Northern Quarter Boys' Choir )

Sat 07 Dec

New monthly comedy night, returning for their second run with the Manchester-based duo, Brown Brogues providing the noise.

Jason Manford

The Manchester television comic, stand-up and all-round cheeky chappie does his solo thing. The Best in Stand Up (Jeff Innocent + Dave Fulton + Steve Gribbin + Tony Burgess + MC Dave Williams)

The Comedy Store, 19:00–21:00, £20 (£10)

Regular night of stand up with an ever-changing line-up of quality comedians.

The Best in Stand Up (Jeff Innocent + Dave Fulton + Steve Gribbin + Tony Burgess + MC Dave Williams)

The Comedy Store, 21:30–23:30, £20 (£10)

Regular night of stand up with an ever-changing line-up of quality comedians. Jason Manford

Phones4u Arena, 20:00–23:00, £22.50

The Manchester television comic, stand-up and all-round cheeky chappie does his solo thing. S.O.S.

Three Minute Theatre, 19:00–22:30, £5 (£4)

The Superstars on Saturday crew have assembled an evening of character comedy and sketches, featuring Peter Slater, Lee Fenwick and more.

Sun 08 Dec New Comedians (Alex Boardman)

The Comedy Store, 19:30–21:00, £3

A night of stand-up from some fresh-faced comics trying to break on to the circuit – be nice.

Mon 09 Dec Beat The Frog (Dan Nightingale)

The Frog and Bucket Comedy Club, 19:00–23:00, £3 (Free with student ID)

A ten-act long heckle-fest, as a handful of amateurs take to the stage and try to Beat the Frog – you decide who stays, brutal!

Wed 11 Dec

The Best in Stand Up (Steve Hughes + Danny McLoughlin + MC Jason Cook)

The Comedy Store, 20:00–23:00, £12 (£6)

Regular night of stand up with an ever-changing line-up of quality comedians.

Thu 12 Dec

Christmas Comedy for Age UK Tameside

The Frog and Bucket Comedy Club, 13:00–16:00, £20

Get into the Christmas spirit with some live stand-up, a hot buffet lunch and musical entertainment, hosted by Smug Roberts. The Best in Stand Up (Steve Hughes + Jo Caulfield + Danny McLoughlin + MC Jason Cook)

The Comedy Store, 19:00–21:00, £16 (£8)

Regular night of stand up with an ever-changing line-up of quality comedians. Ed Byrne: Roaring Forties

O2 Apollo, 19:00–23:00, £22.50

Self-confessed miserable git, Ed Byrne takes his mid-life crisis of sorts on the road as he embraces middle age with open arms.


Fri 13 Dec

The Castle Hotel, 20:00–23:00, £10

Sat 14 Dec

The Best in Stand Up (Mick Ferry + Paul Tonkinson + Phil Nichol + Alex Boardman + MC John Moloney) The Comedy Store, 19:00–21:00, £22 (£11)

Regular night of stand up with an ever-changing line-up of quality comedians. Roy Chubby Brown

Sat 21 Dec

Thu 05 Dec

The Best in Stand Up (Mick Ferry + Paul Tonkinson + Phil Nichol + Alex Boardman + MC John Moloney)

The Comedy Store, 19:00–21:00, £24 (£12)

Regular night of stand up with an ever-changing line-up of quality comedians. The Best in Stand Up (Mick Ferry + Paul Tonkinson + Phil Nichol + Alex Boardman + MC John Moloney)

The Comedy Store, 21:30–23:30, £24 (£12)

Regular night of stand up with an ever-changing line-up of quality comedians.

The Comedy Store, 19:00–21:00, £24 (£12)

A chance for those on the circuit to test out some new, never before heard or seen material.

The Comedy Store, 21:30–23:30, £24 (£12)

Regular night of stand up with an ever-changing line-up of quality comedians.

Sun 15 Dec

New Comedians (Alex Boardman)

The Comedy Store, 19:30–21:00, £3

A night of stand-up from some fresh-faced comics trying to break on to the circuit – be nice.

Mon 16 Dec

Beat The Frog (Pete Otway)

The Frog and Bucket Comedy Club, 19:00–23:00, £3 (Free with student ID)

A ten-act long heckle-fest, as a handful of amateurs take to the stage and try to Beat the Frog – you decide who stays, brutal!

Sidekick Comedy (Red Redmon + Jayne Edwards + Peter Brush + MC Kate McCabe) Via, 19:00–22:30, £2

A monthly comedy gig with a line up of delightfully hilarious circuit funny folk.

Tue 17 Dec

The Worst Comedy Night in Salford

The King’s Arms, 19:30–00:00, Free

Keeping expectations low with this open mic night of stand up, all are welcome to give it a bash.

Wed 18 Dec

The Best in Stand Up (Mick Ferry + Paul Tonkinson + Phil Nichol)

The Comedy Store, 20:00–23:00, £14 (£7)

Regular night of stand up with an ever-changing line-up of quality comedians.

Thu 19 Dec

The Best in Stand Up (Mick Ferry + Paul Tonkinson + Phil Nichol)

The Comedy Store, 19:00–21:30, £18 (£9)

Regular night of stand up with an ever-changing line-up of quality comedians.

Fri 20 Dec

The Best in Stand Up (Mick Ferry + Paul Tonkinson + Phil Nichol + Alex Boardman + MC John Moloney)

The Comedy Store, 21:30–23:30, £22 (£11)

Regular night of stand up with an ever-changing line-up of quality comedians.

The Laughter Factor

The Slaughter House, 20:00–23:00, £5 (£3)

A monthly event giving comicsthe chance to try out new material before the weekend shows – it helps if you think of yourself as a comedic guinea pig.

O2 Apollo, 19:00–23:00, £20

Sun 22 Dec

The Best in Stand Up (Steve Hughes + Jo Caulfield + Danny McLoughlin + MC Jason Cook)

Wed 04 Dec

The English stand-up comic does his usual line in rude and crude banter, as politically incorrect as ever.

The Best in Stand Up (Steve Hughes + Jo Caulfield + Danny McLoughlin + MC Jason Cook)

Regular night of stand up with an ever-changing line-up of quality comedians.


New Stuff (Toby Hadoke)

The Comedy Store, 19:30–21:00, £3

Fri 27 Dec

The Best in Stand Up (Nathan Canton + Sean Meo + John Warburton + MC Justin Moorhouse)

The Comedy Store, 20:00–23:00, £18 (£9)

Regular night of stand up with an ever-changing line-up of quality comedians.

Sat 28 Dec

The Best in Stand Up (Nathan Canton + Sean Meo + John Warburton + MC Justin Moorhouse)

The Comedy Store, 20:00–23:00, £20 (£10)

Regular night of stand up with an ever-changing line-up of quality comedians.

Sun 29 Dec

Stand Up Sunday (Danny McLoughlin + MC Justin Moorhouse)

The Comedy Store, 19:30–23:00, £12 (£6)

See off your weekend with a few hours of comedy fun.

Mon 30 Dec

The Best in Stand Up (Danny McLoughlin + MC Justin Moorhouse)

The Comedy Store, 20:00–23:00, £14 (£7)

Regular night of stand up with an ever-changing line-up of quality comedians.

Tue 31 Dec

New Year’s Eve Stand Up: Part 1 (Andy Askins + Rob Deering + Justin Moorhouse + MC Mick Ferry) The Comedy Store, 18:00–20:45, From £30

Part one of the Comedy Store NYE celebrations sees a five-strong line-up of comics taking to the stage to help you see in the new year in fits of giggles.

New Year’s Eve Stand Up: Part 2 (Andy Askins + Rob Deering + Justin Moorhouse + MC Mick Ferry) The Comedy Store, 21:00–02:00, From £40

Part one of the Comedy Store NYE celebrations sees a five-strong line-up of comics taking to the stage to help you see in the new year in fits of giggles.

Jonny Awsum (Mickey D + Barry Dodds + MC Danny McLoughlin)

Comedy Central at Baby Blue, 18:00–22:30, £43 BOGOF

Fresh-faced comic bringing his own brand of feel-good musical comedy by the bucketload.

Neil Fitzmaurice (Ste Porter + Keith Carter + MC Chris Cairns)

The Slaughter House, 20:00–23:00, £15

Actor and comedian – best known for his role as Mark’s love rival in Peep Show – presents his latest comic offerings.

Fri 06 Dec

Jonny Awsum (Mickey D + Barry Dodds + MC Danny McLoughlin)

Comedy Central at Baby Blue, 18:00–22:30, £43 BOGOF

Fresh-faced comic bringing his own brand of feel-good musical comedy by the bucketload.

Keith Carter as Nige (Ste Porter + Neil Fitzmaurice + MC Chris Cairns)

The Slaughter House, 18:45–20:45, £15

Keith Carter presents the lovable scouse, Nige, renowned for securing Liverpool the title of Capital of Culture, so they say. Ste Porter (Neil Fitzmaurice + Keith Carter + MC Chris Cairns)

The Slaughter House, 21:00–23:00, £22.95

Resident comic serves up some crowd-pleasing comedy punctuated by his quick wit and at-ease stage presence.

Sat 07 Dec

Jonny Awsum (MC Jonathon Mayor)

Wed 11 Dec

Sat 21 Dec

The Slaughter House, 20:00–23:00, £12 (£10)

Comedy Central at Baby Blue, 18:00–22:30, £43 BOGOF

Sol Bernstein (Steve Shanyaski + Jamie Sutherland + Chris Cairns)

Alter ego of London comic, Steve Jameson, presenting old hat jokes with a rat-a-tat rhythm and banter-rich style of an old-school Jewish comic.

Thu 12 Dec

Alex Boardman (Dan Nightingale + Philberto + MC Jonathon Mayor)

Comedy Central at Baby Blue, 18:00–22:30, £43 BOGOF

Oldham-based comic delivering stand up sets chock full of charm and razor sharp wit.

Neil Fitzmaurice (Ste Porter + Keith Carter + MC Chris Cairns)

The Slaughter House, 20:00–23:00, £15

The Slaughter House, 21:00–23:00, £22.95

Keith Carter presents the lovable scouse, Nige, renowned for securing Liverpool the title of Capital of Culture, so they say.

Dave Spikey (Mark Watson + Richard Herring + Steve Hughes + Tom Stade + Keith Carter + MC Neil Fitzmaurice) Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, 20:00–23:00, From £20

Multi award-winning comic and 8 out of 10 Cats team captain serves up a night of hilarious observational comedy.

The Very Best of Laughterhouse (Mark Watson + Dave Spikey + Neil Fitzmaurice + Richard Herring + Tom Stade + Steve Hughes + Keith Carter)

Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, 20:00–23:00, From £20

The Laughterhouse comedy club present their end-of-year celebration, with the Edinburgh Fringe regular, Mark Watson headlining the night along with some of Liverpool’s finest comic talents.

Sun 08 Dec

Becoming Johnny Vegas

Epstein Theatre, 19:30–23:00, £20

St Helen’s-born comic, Johnny Vegas, discusses his life, career and frank new memoir in a charity In Conversation event.

Keith Carter presents the lovable scouse, Nige, renowned for securing Liverpool the title of Capital of Culture, so they say.

Fri 27 Dec

Ste Porter (Keith Carter as Nige + MC Chris Cairns) The Slaughter House, 20:00–23:00, £22.95

Sat 28 Dec

Comedy Central at Baby Blue, 18:00–22:30, £43 BOGOF

Comedy Central at Baby Blue, 18:00–22:30, £18

Keith Carter as Nige (Ste Porter + Neil Fitzmaurice + MC Chris Cairns)

Neil Fitzmaurice (Ste Porter + Keith Carter + MC Chris Cairns)

Alex Boardman (Dan Nightingale + Philberto + MC Jonathon Mayor)

Daliso Chaponda (Mike Wilkinson + Danny Deegan + MC Sully O’Sullivan)

Oldham-based comic delivering stand up sets chock full of charm and razor sharp wit.

Malawian comic, with a career spanning Canada, South Africa and more recently, the UK.

The Slaughter House, 18:45–20:45, £20

The Slaughter House, 20:00–23:00, £22.95

Keith Carter presents the lovable scouse, Nige, renowned for securing Liverpool the title of Capital of Culture, so they say.

Actor and comedian – best known for his role as Mark’s love rival in Peep Show – presents his latest comic offerings.

The Slaughter House, 21:00–23:00, £22.95

Keith Carter as Nige (Ste Porter + Neil Fitzmaurice + MC Chris Cairns)

Ste Porter (Neil Fitzmaurice + Keith Carter + MC Chris Cairns)

Resident comic serves up some crowd-pleasing comedy punctuated by his quick wit and at-ease stage presence.

Sat 14 Dec

Alex Boardman (Dan Nightingale + Philberto + MC Jonathon Mayor)

Neil Fitzmaurice (Ste Porter + Keith Carter + MC Chris Cairns)

Keith Carter as Nige (Ste Porter + Neil Fitzmaurice + MC Chris Cairns)

The Slaughter House, 20:00–23:00, £22.95

Fri 13 Dec

Neil Fitzmaurice (Ste Porter + Keith Carter + MC Chris Cairns)

The Slaughter House, 18:45–21:00, £20

Keith Carter as Nige (Ste Porter + Neil Fitzmaurice + MC Chris Cairns)

Resident comic serves up some crowd-pleasing comedy punctuated by his quick wit and at-ease stage presence.

Comedy Central at Baby Blue, 18:00–22:30, £43 BOGOF

Actor and comedian – best known for his role as Mark’s love rival in Peep Show – presents his latest comic offerings.

Eloquent young man making funnies out of everyday, mundane experiences.

Actor and comedian – best known for his role as Mark’s love rival in Peep Show – presents his latest comic offerings.

Comedy Central at Baby Blue, 18:00–22:30, £50 BOGOF

Fresh-faced comic bringing his own brand of feel-good musical comedy by the bucketload.

Steve Shanyaski (David Longley + Steve Harris + MC Ray Peacock)

Oldham-based comic delivering stand up sets chock full of charm and razor sharp wit.

The Slaughter House, 18:45–20:45, £20

Actor and comedian – best known for his role as Mark’s love rival in Peep Show – presents his latest comic offerings.

Wed 18 Dec

Steve Shanyaski (David Longley + Steve Harris + MC Ray Peacock)

Comedy Central at Baby Blue, 18:00–22:30, £43 BOGOF

Eloquent young man making funnies out of everyday, mundane experiences.

Thu 19 Dec

Steve Shanyaski (David Longley + Steve Harris + MC Ray Peacock)

Comedy Central at Baby Blue, 18:00–22:30, £43 BOGOF

Eloquent young man making funnies out of everyday, mundane experiences. Keith Carter as Nige (Ste Porter + Neil Fitzmaurice + MC Chris Cairns)

The Slaughter House, 20:00–23:00, £15

Keith Carter presents the lovable scouse, Nige, renowned for securing Liverpool the title of Capital of Culture, so they say.

Fri 20 Dec

Steve Shanyaski (David Longley + Steve Harris + MC Ray Peacock)

Comedy Central at Baby Blue, 18:00–22:30, £50 BOGOF

Eloquent young man making funnies out of everyday, mundane experiences. Ste Porter (Neil Fitzmaurice + Keith Carter + MC Chris Cairns)

The Slaughter House, 20:00–23:00, £22.95

Resident comic serves up some crowd-pleasing comedy punctuated by his quick wit and at-ease stage presence.

Tue 31 Dec

The Slaughter House, 19:30–23:00, £25

Keith Carter presents the lovable scouse, Nige, renowned for securing Liverpool the title of Capital of Culture, so they say.

Manchester 2022NQ

No Two Days The Same: Jon Parker Lee

22 Nov – 7 Dec, not 24 Nov, 1 Dec, times vary, Free

Freelance photographer, Jon Parker Lee presents an exhibition of work spanning ten years of freelance photogaphy behind the scenes. Before I could draw

29 NOV-7 DEC, Not 1 dec, times vary, free

A group exhibition inviting illustrators to re-interpret drawings from their childhood, with the original doodles displayed alongside the new artwork.

BLANKSPACE Title Art Prize Exhibition

various dates between 7 Nov and 8 Dec, 11:00am – 5:00pm, Free

Bringing together the 23 artists shortlisted for the 2013 Title Art Prize, the exhibition will see hopefuls exhibiting their work through to December, following the prize giving event on 22 Nov.

Centre For Chinese Contemporary Art

Wendi Xie: First Step Showcase

various dates between 21 Sep and 21 Dec, 10:00am – 5:00pm, Free

Recent MA Ceramics and Glass Design graduate, Wendi Xie presents a collection of work using fibre glass, plaster, clear glass and plastic to reimagine the use of classic craft materials. Cao Fei: Haze and Fog

various dates between 26 Oct and 7 Dec, 10:00am – 5:00pm, Free

An ambitions new film commission by Chinese artist, Cao Fei, taking on the zombie movie genre and exploring class structures and powerlessness.


Blank Media Collective: Invented Identities

various dates between 12 Sep and 14 Dec, times vary, Free

The latest exhibition by Blank Media Collective explores ways in which we sculpt our own identity and re-imagine reality through false images and alter egos.

Cornerhouse Double Indemnity

various dates between 14 Sep and 5 Jan, times vary, Free

A new group exhibition taking inspiration from Billy Wilder’s classic film noir, Double Indemnity, exploring desire, possession and complicity and featuring two newly commissioned works by Ming Wong and Anicka Yi. Urgent Copy

various dates between 7 Nov and 7 Jan, times vary, Free

Anthony Burgess’ book covers enjoy a moment in the spotlight in this new exhibition exploring the way his writing is interpreted and represented by artists, drawing on rare materials on loan from the International Anthony Burgess Foundation.

Gallery of Costume

Christian Dior: Designer in focus

12 Jun – 12 Jan, times vary, Free

A unique exhibition of Christian Dior’s work, including London and Paris couture with highlights including a piece from his New Look collection, a 1949 black ribbed silk cocktail dress commissioned by the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson.

Imperial War Museum North Sean Smith: Iraq

4 Jun – 2 Feb, 10:00am – 5:00pm, Free

A photographic exhibition by the award-winning British war photographer, Sean Smith, documenting the collision of two worlds as local Iraqis and military personnel are forced to co-exist. Catalyst: Contemporary Art and War

12 Oct – 23 Feb, 10:00am – 5:00pm, Free

A new exhibition bringing together the work of over 70 artists across photography, film, sculpture, oil paintings, prints and book works to explore our changing perceptions of conflict in a time when our reactions are so influenced by the media.


The Orion Constellation: Aalina Stanciu

18 Nov – 4 Dec, times vary, Free

An intricate installation created by Manchester-based student, Aalina Stanciu, with black cord mounted on the walls and ceiling representing the moments captured when a person walks into a bar and a new story begins.

MMU: Special Collections The Language of Process

various dates between 23 Sep and 20 Dec, times vary, Free

A new exhibition exploring how new materials and technologies are changing digital product design, with design work from some of the world’s leading creative designers, including Assa Ashuach and Tom Dixon

Manchester Art Gallery Radical Figures: Post-war British Figurative Painting

16–16 Mar, times vary, Free

A new collection of works that explore the role painters such as Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud and David Hockney played in the reinvention of figurative and realist art in post-war Britain. Home, Land and Sea: Art in the Netherlands 1600-1800

24–23 May, times vary, Free

Bringing together over 50 paintings from the Manchester City Galleries’ 17th and 18th century Dutch and Flemish collection, including portraiture, landscapes and seascapes from Pieter de Hooch and Gerard ter Borch.



An exhibition of English and French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, exploring the allure of French art for a generation of English and Scottish painters. A HIGHLAND ROMANCE: VICTORIAN VIEWS OF SCOTTISHNESS


A collection of some of the most popular 19th century paintings and works on paper by Scottish artists is shown alongside visions of Scotland by artists from England, exploring the changing view of Scotland and Scottishness over the past two centuries. ALL THAT IS SOLID MELTS INTO AIR


This new touring exhibition curated by Jeremy Deller explores the impact of the industrial revolution of British pop culture through music, film, photography and objects, with Deller’s approach to the materials likened to that of a social cartographer. GRAYSON PERRY: THE VANITY OF SMALL DIFFERENCES


Inspired by William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress, artist Grayson Perry created six tapestries to tell the story of class mobility and the influence of social class on aesthetic taste.

Manchester Craft and Design Centre THE GIFTS OF THE DEPARTED: ALINAH AZADEH


Interdisciplinary artist, Alinah Azadeh presents a new exhibition of work exploring communal rituals and the process of wrapping and exchanging gifts. YUCK POP-UP GALLERY

6–8 DEC, 10:00AM – 5:00PM, FREE

Yuck Print House pop up in Manchester to offer limited edition, affordable screen prints, risographs and giclees from a range of designers and artists, both local and international.

Manchester Jewish Museum



An exhibition showcasing work by some of the most famous Jewish artists in history, including work by Marc Chagall, Chaim Soutine, Lazar Berson and Sonia Delaunay.

National Football Museum



A raw and gritty collection of photographs shot by Stuart Roy Clarke, captured throughout the 2012/13 football season, capturing the passion, joy and loyalty of fans.




For their first exhibition in the Oklahoma basement gallery, Mike Redmond and Sali Steven present an exhibition of work exploring their past, present and future.

Paper Gallery PAPER #10: END OF THE LINE

23 NOV, 30 NOV, 7 DEC, 14 DEC, 21 DEC, 11:00AM – 5:00PM, FREE

A joint exhibition of boundarypushing works utilising paper in a variety of ways – created by established PAPER gallery artists and newcomers, Hayley Lock, David Miles, Barbara Walker and Richard Meaghan.

December 2013

The Holden Gallery

International Slavery Museum

4 NOV – 13 DEC, WEEKDAYS ONLY, 10:00AM – 4:00PM, FREE

1 JUN – 31 DEC, 10:00AM – 5:00PM, FREE


Six artists tackle the complex task of defining the essence of a city through archive and experience; the joint exhibition will feature photographic work from the Open Eye Gallery alongside contrasting film materials.

The John Rylands Library THE POLARI MISSION


As part of the Manchester Pride Fringe festival of events, two artists are embarking on a mission to protect and preserve Polaris – an ancient and endangered language – with an exhibition that examines how LGBT groups identify with Polari today.

The Lowry



An exhibition charting the Manchester’s rich musical heritage through ticket stubs, posters, video and photographs; spanning everything from the Hallé Orchestra’s first performance in 1858 to the present day musical landscape. ALISON GOLDFRAPP: PERFORMER AS CURATOR


To kick off their Performer as Curator series, The Lowry invite English singer/songwriter Alison Goldfrapp to curate an exhibition of work offering insight into the singer’s personal inspiration through paintings, film, illustration and photography.

The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) BRAINS: THE MIND AS MATTER

20 SEP – 4 JAN, 10:00AM – 5:00PM, FREE

On display for the first time outside of London, MOSI present a collection of artifacts, including real brains, artworks, manuscripts and more, showcasing our relationship with this most vital of human organs.

Untitled Gallery DEB COVELL: ZERO


Deb Covell presents a new solo exhibition in which she explores the sculptural qualities of acrylic paint, references pivotal moments of 20th century abstraction.


A colloborative exhibition with the Environmental Justice Foundation exploring how the cotton supply chain works and our roles as consumers in this chain. BRITISH DANCE: BLACK ROUTES

13 SEP – 23 MAR, 10:00AM – 5:00PM, FREE

A new exhibition exploring the experiences of Black British dancers from 1946 to 2005 and shining the spotlight on their contributions to British dance, through jazz, contemporary, ballet and hip hop.


14 JUN – 12 JAN, 10:00AM – 5:00PM, FREE

A collection of 26 drawings by the Pre-Raphaelite master, comprising of independent drawings, preparatory studies and designs for stained glass.

Merseyside Maritime Museum


30 MAR – 31 DEC, 10:00AM – 5:00PM, FREE

A collection of previously unseen archive footage and materials that document Liverpool’s central role in the Titanic story. The exhibition marks the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic.

Museum of Liverpool


27–21 SEP, 10:00AM – 5:00PM, FREE

A exhibition exploring the life of April Ashley, the Liverpool-born Vogue model and actress and one of the first people in the world to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

Open Eye Gallery



A collection of photographs by Alvin Baltrop and Gordon MattaClark, displayed together for the first time in the UK, focussing on the Piers area of NYC during the mid 70s, an area of dilapidation that mirrors Liverpool’s docklands.

Sudley House


Liverpool Baltic Bakehouse



A new solo exhibition by illustrator, Lucy Wilson, presenting a collection of intricate paintings in watercolour and pigment ink depicting all manner of flora and fauna, with each piece housed in unique, hand-finished frames.

Dot Art



A solo exhibition of work by Rob Edmondson, exploring the theme of water through his experimentation with paint and unusual techniques.




A group exhibition in collaboration with the Royal College of Art’s Creative Exchange, exploring the workplace through artworks and research projects and placing the subject of shifting from an industrial to a service-based economy in focus.

A collection of 12 evening outfits spanning 1900 to 2000, charting the changing role of women in society throughout this period, and how these changes were reflected in the fashion of the time.


23 NOV – 31 MAY, 10:00AM – 5:00PM, FREE

An exhibition displaying ‘trigger’ artworks surrounded by groups, or ‘constellations’, of artworks from the same period. With the first floor open you’ll be able to see five ‘trigger’ artworks from before 1960, from artists including Picasso and Pollock. ART TURNING LEFT: HOW VALUES CHANGED MAKING 1789-2013

23 NOV – 2 FEB, 10:00AM – 5:00PM, £8 (£6)

The first exhibition of its kind exploring how left-wing values have influenced the production and reception of art across historical periods and geographical locations – artists include Jeremy Deller, Iwao Yamawaki and Tim Rollins. THE OFFICE OF USEFUL ART

8 NOV – 8 FEB, 10:00AM – 5:00PM, FREE

A working office and education centre created as part of the Art Turning Left exhibition to explore the idea of usefulness and usership in relation to art, stemming from Cuban artist, Tania Bruguera’s The Useful Art Association.


A comprehensive display of archival materials from Danish artist Palle Nielson’s 1968 installation and social experiment, The Model – A Model for a Qualitative Society, in which the Moderna Museet in Stockholm was transformed into a playground.

The Brink





A joint exhibition of nature photography by Liverpool-based artists, Colin Serjent and Jane Groves.

The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts

saturday may 24th 2014 manchester academy



A live-art event created by first year design and technology students, presenting a series of installations and 3D art inspired by pointillism.

Book now 0161 832 1111

PLUS Very Special Guests performing their classic debut album & DJs



Taking place on a variety of platforms and in various formats – including google hangouts and live performance in The Royal standard gallery space – this group exhibition looks at the changing role of art in an online environment.

The Zanzibar Club


8 DEC, 7:00PM – 11:00PM, FREE

A group exhibition of screen prints from 32 artists located around the world, with each artist presenting their interpretation of a deep sea creature – the launch night will include live drawing and music.

Victoria Gallery and Museum

Although new music makes the world go round, you can rarely touch a classic. Or indeed six classic acts lined up to take over the UK’s busiest gig venue for an afternoon, evening and night of bona fide anthems.

per person, a complimentary drink on arrival, free cloakroom and a hotel for the night for two, simply head over to theskinny. and correctly answer the following question:

Taking the stage on Bank Holiday Saturday 24 May 2014 will be some of the most influential and adored indie acts of the 80s and early 90s. Join Ned's Atomic Dustbin, The Wedding Present, CUD, The Sultans of Ping, The Frank and Walters and a very special guest (announced on 21 December) for what promises to be a reminder of what indie music really meant once.

Which band released the indie classic Gigantic?

To be in with a chance of winning a pair of Golden Tickets to Gigantic, including entry to the event, one piece of free merchandise of your choice

A) Ned's Atomic Dustbin B) Pixies C) The House of Love Competition closes midnight Sun 5 Jan. Winners will be notified via email within two working days of closing and will be required to respond within 48 hours or the prize will be offered to another entrant. Full terms and conditions can be found at



In Cuidad Juarez in Mexico, over 2000 women have been murdered or have disappeared since 1993, as the families struggle for justice, this exhibition brings together the work of artists trying to raise international awareness, and commemorate those lost.

Walker Art Gallery


7 OCT – 9 DEC, 10:00AM – 5:00PM, FREE

Photography exhibition that explores the similarities and differences between the work of Martin Parr and Tom Wood – comprised of photographs taken in the late 70s and early 80s in Liverpool and Ireland. DRAW TOMORROW

18 AUG – 9 DEC, 10:00AM – 5:00PM, FREE

An exhibition of drawings by architect and town planner Stanley Davenport Adshead (1868–1946) in which he presented a new vision for the centre of Liverpool in 1910. DAVID HOCKNEY: EARLY REFLECTIONS

11 OCT – 16 MAR, 10:00AM – 5:00PM, FREE

A unique collection of work charting the early development of a British icon with almost 40 pieces on display, dating from between 1960 and 1978 – catch a unique insight into Hockney’s early years.


11 OCT – 16 MAR, 10:00AM – 5:00PM, FREE

Visual dialogues are created between contemporary and modern works in this exhibition of work from the Arts Council’s collection of decorative and fine art, running parallel to a collection at The Royal Standard. UNLOCKING THE SPIRIT

2 NOV – 1 JAN, 10:00AM – 5:00PM, FREE

A retrospective exhibition of Steve Howlett’s wooden sculptures crafted from holly, sycamore and olive ash, which are tuned on a lathe and carved in one sitting before being allowed to distort.




NOW OPEN IN MANCHESTER (2O YORK ST) / Stores in liverpool

search moose coffee for more information


The Skinny Northwest December 2013  

The Skinny Northwest is a new entertainment and listings magazine for Manchester and Liverpool.