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The Band on the Wall is a Mancunian concert venue with a reputation of presenting some of the best music from both the city in which it resides, and from all points around the World.  I’ve personally seen some great bands there; Buzzcocks, Teardrop Explodes, Joy Division to name a very few, although the latter was memorable in that one Steven Patrick Morrissey was responsible for taking the entrance money at the door.  Recently reopened after a five year period of refurbishment, the Band on the Wall has changed beyond all recognition, however it’s still dedicated to showcasing some of the world’s leading musicians.

Last night was the turn of Manchester’s adopted daughter, Jesca Hoop.  For some inexplicable reason Jesca has swapped the warm sunshine of California for the cold rain of Manchester.  Whatever the reason is for this relocation,
Manchester’s gain is defiantly California’s loss.

The support to Jesca was admirably delivered by Jo Dudderidge of the Travelling band.  Jo’s intricate guitar work and heartfelt lyrics warrants further investigation and I look forward to seeing him again sometime in the future.  

Shortly after Jo’s set Jesca hoop walks confidently onto the Band on the Wall stage and starts to weave her spell.  She’s assembled a small band of musicians to help her; two backing singers, a drummer, and a guitarist who colours the songs beautifully with flourishes of electric and acoustic guitar.  Collectively they enchant the crowd reciting Jesca’s delicate melodies while she gently unravels the words with a voice that shimmers with mischief . It’s potent stuff.

Before the start of Murder of Birds - probably the highlight of her latest LP Hunting My Dress – Jesca adjusts the microphone stand for, as she puts it, “A tall fella” The tall fella in question is Guy Garvey of Elbow who’s turned up to sing backing vocal to this enchanting song, much to the delight of the everyone.  

For the last song of the evening, Jesca takes a position at the every edge of the stage, and, eschewing amplification, gently lullaby’s the crowd.  ‘You belong to me’ she trills, and it goes without saying that we do.               

I honestly don’t think Jesca Hoop will be playing in places of this size for much longer, because, just like Morrissey before her, she’s destined for greater things.  
Review & photos by Phil King