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THE RAINBAND/THE RUBYS/ ROWETTA @ HMV RITZ, MANCHESTER 18/12/2011 - REVIEW BY NIGEL CARTNER

‘THE NEW PRODIGAL SONS OF MANCHESTER’

Carrying on the weekend’s theme of Manchester bands with their eyes on a sense of domination, ‘The Rainband’ are one such band who have a huge shot at achieving something big. Tonight they performed at The HMV Ritz, their fifth gig in Manchester since the end of October, all having been greatly received and relatively packed as they step up a gear in their quest to be heard on the grandest of stages. The four piece band were formed in 2009 by lead singer/guitarist Martin Finnegan and ex ‘Monaco’ guitarist Phil Rainey, drafting in bassist Paul Daggatt and drummer Steve Irlam for a new line up designed to “wrestle music back from the soulless and the fakes.” That mantra has since lived up to expectation as the last couple of years have seen them attain awards and accept plaudits from music heavyweights, including the mighty, ‘Simple Minds’, who they toured with in 2010 after their manager heard them play acoustically on a radio show, leading to Jim Kerr hearing the full band live, a quite astonishing fairytale dream. That shows the pulling power that ‘The Rainband’ have, even Manchester legend Liam Gallagher has tipped them for glory, and with the recent release of EP, ‘The Prodigal’, featuring another ‘Madchester’ legend, Rowetta, the media attention is certainly churning to an explosive point.

Before their hugely anticipated entrance, another local band ‘The Rubys’ were in support and they blasted into action with their catchy and tasteful guitar riffs that seemed to pump adrenaline throughout the body naturally with their compelling rock force. Despite them being relatively new, they look a very tight knit band. There is a wealth of experience throughout the line-up and that’s what gives them such a clean, sharp sound, setting them apart from many inexperienced, youthful bands looking to break through. All the songs had a tremendous rhythm and structure that really drew the audience’s attention. It’s not just ‘The Rainband’ who are hogging all the limelight at the moment as ‘The Rubys’ have pulled attention from America. They have also played a host of prolific gigs, including the ‘Friends of Manchester Festival’ at Capesthorne Hall, Cheshire along with ‘The Rainband’. This is also a band that focuses on lyrics, refusing to be put in the same bracket as mindless nonsense. As drummer Dave Earlam confesses, “The sorts of songs we sing are not about the paparazzi or how big my Ferrari is - none of us have a Ferrari - they’re more about the things that are going on in the world today. One of our songs, ‘10 Seconds’, reflects what we think is the soldier’s view in Afghanistan today.” They appear to have a real down to earth, honest approach to music, and with the headliners having a similar mindset, it was clear why they were invited to support – expect more from this band in the future.

Shortly after ‘The Rubys’ set, ‘Madchester’ Diva, Rowetta, appeared onstage dressed as a glamorous Mrs Claus, and while we waited for the main act to get ready, she gave us a reminder of the musical heritage we Mancunians possess by covering two ‘Joy Division’ songs. The first being ‘New Dawn Fades’, the second being one of the most highly regarded tracks to come out of Manchester, possibly the best, certainly the most emotional, ‘Atmosphere’, paying tribute to the genius Ian Curtis.

Once we’d been reminded of the past, it was time for the present and future to get underway as ‘The Rainband’s’ entrance was greeted with a barrage of cheers and applause by a following that just doesn’t seem to stop growing. They have a softer, sincere side to indie music, which is deliciously melancholy, reminiscent of a sound of the past in parts. The vocals and lyrics are eloquent and harmonious, embodying all the hallmarks of a typical Mancunian band. At times, they can turn to darker moods, adding an edgier stigma to their repertoire, but more often than not their approach and genre is good, old fashioned rock music, the type to intrigue a larger fan base of mixed ages and backgrounds, but still managing to remain original enough not to fall into a type cast. Rowetta returned to perform new release ‘The Prodigal’, a more fearless expression of a northern, flawless sound that is highlighted by Rowetta’s powerful and enchanting backing vocals like we once heard on old ‘Happy Mondays’ classics, which begs to ask the question, are we looking at the dawn of a new age of anthems within Manchester music? Whatever the answer to that is, one thing remains clear, ‘The Rainband’ are a band that senses something magical within their grasp, and in a time where there is a lull in a new Manchester talent to tow the line, a crown is there for the taking. With most bands yearning for a new sound to bring the heavens down, ‘The Rainband’ are comfortable enough in acknowledging the history of music from our great city, freshening it up and bringing it into the modern era. With the success they’ve already gained this year, 2012 will surely propel them to the next level.


Setlist

Headlong
I Believe In You
Broken Youth
Stars Collide
Alone
Two Ways
We Are Free
Is This What You Want
She’s A Rainbow
The Prodigal
—————–
Alive
Rise Again

Review by Nigel Cartner/Photos by Matt Johnston