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There’s a tangible feeling of expectancy in the air tonight and not without good reason. The upper floor University venue of Academy 3 plays host tonight to a distinctly all Manc affair showcasing a selection of some of the finest of our local performers varying much in style but linked by their common ability to combine passion, talent and attitude. The task of getting the night under way falls to local singer songwriter Steven Chadwick better known simply as ‘Chaddy’- whose stories of the day to day complexities and challenges that life throws at us all speak in a way that is relevant and real and the cult following that is developing around his performances can be witnessed in the form of regular devotees swaying with beer filled glasses held aloft in tribute as they share his words and feelings on life.

If singer Chris Haddon cuts an unassuming figure as he takes to the stage all of that is soon dispelled as he leads his band into action with a set packed with energy and purpose. The Minx are a band with a rapidly growing fan base, also acquiring admirers from all quarters of the music world drawn to their ability to marry the musical influences that have shaped their style citing references as diverse as punk, ska and the pop sensibilities and lyrical wit of bands such as the Housemartins. By the time that they have finished their sweat soaked set they have further established themselves as very much a band to watch out for.

The pace and power of the evening is maintained by Stretford band The Naughtys who may present a laid back almost casual image visually but this is underpinned with a true ability to take the punk/ska sound born from the late seventies and early eighties and inject into it a shot of present day Manchester adrenalin looking like a band that enjoy every moment of their ‘in your face’ highly charged delivery.

In a city that is no stranger to producing a constant stream of the finest in musical talent anyone who has ever seen a live performance by Jessie Rose will tell you of a unique young artist that fits into this description very comfortably. She is someone who is capable of simultaneously infusing her music with the sensuality of her brilliantly soulful vocals and at the same time adding the rocky cold steel edge of her virtuoso guitar skills. Having had the pleasure of watching Jessie Rose and her band from the earliest days of their existence to the present time has offered the opportunity to observe how someone blessed with natural talent and an unquenchable desire to succeed can proudly draw upon a collection of varying musical influences whilst allowing space for their own song writing capabilities to flourish to the point where they can deliver a live set that threatens to set the stage alight.

 So with the audience nicely warmed up and ready Jessie Rose emerges from the wings, a shimmering vision as the stage lights dance across her sparkling outfit of black, silver and gold. Her now trademark red feather boa draped around her mic stand is complimented by the elegantly styled blaze of hair that trails over one shoulder and shoes of a matching hue that will be customarily removed to allow her to prowl the stage with feline athleticism. Openers “Love Me” and “Step Aside” set the standard for the night, bristling with power and filled with lyrics of accusation and defiance. With each passing year and an increasing count of live performances Jessie’s voice has matured and developed into something that inextricably blends with her ever sharpening guitar skills to enable her to deliver a body of work that draws upon her love affair with the earthiness of classic soul, the souring enormity of Motown and the infectious rhythms of funk and the latter style is where she takes us next by covering Indeep’s 1983 dance floor classic – “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life”. Her voice skips perfectly over her jangling guitar riff whilst bass player Mark Lewis provides the rap ensuring that – “away goes trouble down the drain”!

Mark, along with drummer Jimmy Wood happily see Jessie as the focal point of their live performances but it cannot be underestimated as to just how important this skillfully talented ‘engine room’ is to helping drive their on stage success. This is evident once again in “Hurt” – a powerful retort to the heartbreakers of this world which has all the force of a runaway steam train.

Having recently had the pleasure of watching Jessie Rose play a rare stripped back solo set in the intimate confines of the Castle Hotel it gave an opportunity to witness in a ‘nowhere to hide’ surrounding the versatility of her playing and the self belief she possesses to take that next career step, so when a change of pace to deliver the moody “No One Ever Told Me” is required she slips effortlessly into character to take it down and show how truly powerful a vocalist she has become. Surprises and something a little bit different were promised for this night and they come with the introduction to the stage of rapper Bedos – a figure large in both size and talent joining the band for a hip hop mash up (including a fine working of Outkast’s “Miss Jackson”) and although dwarfed in stature, Jessie matches him every step of the way in her delivery hinting at the potential for future collaborations such as this.

The still amazingly infectious “Boy Boy” closes the set before a ‘curfew busting’ return for one last tribute to the golden days of Motown and a cover of “You Keep Me Hanging On” that would have had Diana Ross and the girls smiling in approval. 2013 will see the band head back to New York to record their much anticipated debut album and with dates scheduled on both sides of the Atlantic plus the imminent release of both studio and live eps the coming year has the potential to be the point where all of the hard work of the past pays off and the world will know that Manchester has bred another musical legend in the form of the beautiful and talented Jessie Rose.

Review by Shay
Photos by Melanie

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