So a dark Thursday night free in Manchester, what to do? A cheeky lil’ gig is all. If it’s at the lovely Deaf Institute that’s bonus, and I’d been meaning to check out the buzz around Polar States for a while.
The proceedings kicked off with Rory Wynne, a man who looks every part a rock star even I suspect on his own lunchtime. No matter that he and his band were the opening act, Rory went with the big intro before his entrance on stage wearing his trade mark sunnies. I think I’d end up with wee on my shoes if I tried to follow that style. But that’s me and my rubbish eyesight, not Rory. His shoes looked spotless.
I’m not knocking the swagger, rock and roll was built on it, and I think those bands that shuffle on stage, head down, in their scruffs are often missing a trick. In any case, Rory has some songs up his timeless black jumper sleeves to give some real presence. There’s a power in the tank too with a line up with organ, double guitars and bass too.
As opening act here, I was assuming the reference to asking the crowd if they were drunk yet was a bit of pure rock ‘n roll flash too. I’ve seen Rory Wynne a few times now and he always gives a solid dependable performance. There’s some new tracks out in the usual places and they are well worth checking out.
Polar States had a very assured start and are one of those bands you cannot fail to enjoy. There’s the soaring choruses and a touch of the Will Sergeant Bunnymen guitar mastery here.
The band feel like musical magpies, and a band with a sound I could imagine transferring to the big festival stage well. You know those crowd pleasers that get everyone in the mood, singing along.
I was pleased to have picked out Simple Minds as an influence. Niall the bassist of the band confirmed afterwards they had indeed been listening to Simple Minds before the gig. I also picked out something of an early Aha vibe – Polar States are very much into that assured, quality, confident early 80’s rock sound with strong choruses and solid music. Maybe Polar States are successors to the likes of Snow Patrol.
it did please me no end to hear the guys perform a version of Heroes. Its always interesting to hear a cover, and here Polar States played it straight down the line and smashed it into the net.
I did spot the lads with some expensive gear to help them set up, and Niall indeed confirmed they had signed a management deal and were learning their trade before hoping to pick up a recording contract. The North West band have been around in one form or another since 2016, so it’s little wonder there’s a confidence that comes from experience here. These guys know what sounds good and they know where they want to be. Huge guitars, strong guts to the music and a very tidy set overall. What’s not to like and I’d love to see this band again.
To close was Cian Godfrey, aka Somebody’s Child. I think I was fearing to be a bit disappointed, as the vocals on the Someone’s Child recordings are something else, and I wondered how they may translate to the live environment.
However Somebody’s Child totally delivers the goods live, with amazing vocals and a stage presence that really puts you in the room with this guy – he spent much of this time either sat or crouched at the edge of the stage or singing amongst the audience.
Somebody’s Child are of course not alone with getting up close with the audience from the stage, but with his very personal lyrics about dealing and thinking about life experiences, this was an immersive, immense experience.
I found an earlier interview with Cian where he orginially felt unsure about having too much of a personal profile, but fully appreciating he wanted that connection. Here, he totally engaged with the audience. I spoke with Cian briefly later, and he came across as quite a reserved man. I’d want to chill rather than chat and sell merch myself, and the man well deserves his space.
There was a full band behind Cian and so the sound was rich and spot on. Musically the set was a diverse one. The Lover was the opening track, and is a pounding punky rocker. Other tracks have a variety, and a number are stylish rockets with soaring vocals and tunes which totally vibed. There were also bits that reminded me of Thin Lizzy, bits that felt a bit like Tom Grennan. A huge diversity of sound here.
I go to live gigs to make my head buzz with sound, and to clear out the week’s deadwood so I can be in the moment. Somebody’s Child did it perfectly.
* haha the photos are poor and a bit blurry, so yep, they are mine