Festival Review | The British Sound Project - Manchester | 29/9/17

In the back end of September we caught a special celebration of British musicat the Victoria Warehouse, Manchester in the form of The British Sound Project. With a stellar line up of bands playing the night, this could very well be the best small festival of the year.

Kicking things off on the main stage is Sittin' Pretty [6], who cook up an interesting mix of indie and blues-rock, vocalist Conor Wilde smiling in delight as he shakes away with his tambourine. Sadly their set is plagued by muffled vocals from the sound system. This however does not stop their terrific onstage charisma shining through, and with a style somewhat similar to indie-rock heavyweights Cage The Elephant, this band has great potential for the future.

The first of two Glaswegian acts on the bill, Fatherson [8] deliver an absolutely beautiful performance, with frontman Ross Leighton's vocals positively flowing throughout the entire venue. After a soulful rendition of their second album title track 'Open Book', the crowd majority take up vocal duties for the escalating 'oh no' section of first album hit single 'I Like Not Knowing'. Bassist Marc Strain bounces about the stage, beaming from ear to ear during a booming run through of 'Always', and they close out their set with a triumphantly powerful rendition of 'Lost Little Boys'. Fatherson's music sounds like a folk-rock walk through an enchanted forest, and they are well deserving of your undivided attention should you ever get the chance to watch them on stage.

Lonely The Brave [8] take to the stage now, and it's an undeniable fact that many people in the room made their way to Manchester especially for them. The Cambridge based five piece waste no time in roaring through 'Trick Of The Light' and into 'Dust & Bones', and you can feel the raw emotion pouring out of every note and chord. There's something very special about watching Lonely The Brave perform, as if the music is quite literally coursing through the veins of each and every member, vocalist David Jakes in particular looking as if an ocean of pure resplendent sound is ready to explode from within him at any moment. The band turn up the emotion even more with a heart capturing performance of 'Backroads', as fans bellow the lyrics back at the band, and they bring their set to a close with a fantastic 'The Blue, The Green'. If Fatherson are the enchanted forest, then Lonely The Brave are the murky woods from the fairy tales where all the best stories come from. This band is essential.

Photo Credit: Elliot Grimmie

To the sound of the drums Mallory Knox [7] march onstage, diving straight into latest album title track 'Wired'. The atmosphere shift in the room is immediately apparent as people's feet start to leave the floor to the rockier sound of Mallory's upbeat guitar riffs. Frontman Mikey Chapman's smooth voice has the crowd completely under his spell during 'Beggars', and as he makes everyone crouch low to the ground ready for 'Lucky Me' to kick in, there's a swelling feeling of pure, unfiltered joy in the air as everyone leaps up into the air. Though it's mostly the newer material from the band that's working the crowd here, the huge chorus of 'Lighthouse' is impossible to ignore, and followed through with the ridiculously catchy 'Better Off Without You' that just begs to be sung at the top of your lungs. The Knox boys can chalk this one up as a win, they had a lot of great bands to compete with but have more than proven that they deserve to stand among them as one of Britains finest.

Norfolk lads Deaf Havana [8] arrive onstage next to the sound 'Ashes, Ashes', the opening track from most recent album 'All These Countless Nights'. Their set relies heavily on songs from this album, which is by no means a bad thing, as it's full to the brim with emotionally fuelled, beautifully crafted songs ready to bring tears to the eyes of anyone who really listens to the words. Singalong anthem 'Trigger' goes down a treat, and the band even finds time to fit in a cover of 'Cigarettes & Alcohol' by Manchester's own legendary music act Oasis. Not only do Deaf Havana manage to deliver one of the best performances of the night so far, but they do it almost effortlessly, as they close their set out with the final track from their aforementioned recent album, 'Pensacola, 2103'.

Photo Credit: Elliot Grimmie

Pulled Apart By Horses [9], despite being on the smaller second stage tonight, certainly know how to put on a show. They burst onto the stage in a flurry of green and white light, as frontman Tom Hudson screams out the opening lyrics to 'The Haze'. The rowdy boys from Leeds have no trouble in getting an intense mosh pit started up during set staple 'I Punched A Lion In The Throat', which only gets more insane as their set goes on. The bouncy tones of 'Hotel Motivation', the hard hitting velocity of 'V.E.N.O.M' and the raging escalation of 'High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive' make them a tough act to beat, and no PABH show would really be complete without guitarist James Brown leaping off of the tallest object he can find in the room, whilst Tom joins the rest of us in the pit (even at the peril of his guitar, which ended up on the floor on more than one occasion). Pulled Apart By Horses just showed up every other act on the bill, by wreaking absolute havoc upon the second stage and proving that you don't need a large space to make your band sound colossal.

Back on the main stage now, amid chants of “Here we, here we, here we fucking go!” Scottish titans Twin Atlantic [9] appear, engulfed in a vibrant blue smog as Sam McTrusty utters “All I hear are whispers” and both the band and the crowd burst into life. After 'Whispers', a sudden shift in tone occurs as the stage lighting becomes a blood red and they crank it up notch with 'Gold Elephant: Cherry Alligator', sending the place into a frenzy. Twin Atlantic know exactly how to work a crowd by now, and catchy rock anthem 'The Chaser' has everyone off their feet and bouncing in no time. The mountainous cries of 'I set my body on fire so I could be free' from the fans and McTrusty himself during 'Free' indicate just how far this band has come since their early days, headlining a festival aimed to showcase the very best of British music, and rightly so. Sam retires his guitar in favour of going for a walkabout during the essential banger that is 'No Sleep', as he dives backwards immerses himself in a sea of people. As they close out the night with 'Heart & Soul', McTrusty takes a moment to say “there's a reason we chose Manchester as the last show of the tour!”. He has no need to say anything more than this, the atmosphere in the room alone gives the perfect answer to this statement.

The British Sound Project has been a resounding success, an unforgettable night filled with incredible music from a terrific line up of Britain's finest rising rock collectives.

Photo Credit: Elliot Grimmie