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Every time I take a trip to Manchester on the train, just past Moston station and just before I can see the tower of Strangeways prison, there stands three blocks of flats. Obviously there’s nothing unusual about that except that these buildings each have a name. I know this because each building has a pink neon sign that proudly displays to anyone passing that they’re called Emmaline, Cristobel and Sylvia. Initially I was told that these were the names of the daughters of the architect who designed these building, but then I found out that Emmaline, Cristobel and Sylvia are names given to the Pankhurst women.  I find it an odd thing that these buildings should be chosen as a monument to the feminist cause, but I do know that when I see these three proud women standing tall on the skyline of Manchester, I’m minutes away from where I want to be.

Another Mancunian institution is the Band On The Wall. Now renovated and reinstated as one of the premier concert venues in the city, tonight it’s been chosen to host the album launch of Kirsty Almeida’s ‘Pure Blue Green’ – probably one of the best albums to be released this year. Check out my review here: (It would appear that Kirsty is somewhat of a renaissance woman because when I finally arrived at the bar of the Band on the Wall its become a make-shift art gallery to exhibit Kirsty’s tasteful paintings. I’m no connoisseur but they looked okay to me, although if I’m honest I was more interested in tasting the delicious free cakes Kirsty had baked. One was never going to be enough!   

There were three support acts on the bill; the stripped back blues of flautist Rioghnach Connolly, the boisterous Running Club and the beautifully eccentric Damsel Dusty.  Each was well received though nobody was under any illusion that it was Kirsty Almeida everybody has come to see.

It should come as no surprise that the Band On The Wall was packed when Kirsty Almeida and her seven-piece band ‘The Troubadours’ walked onto the stage. Looking resplendent in top hat and horizontal lines while the boys hid behind colourful masks, they breezed into the first number of the set, ‘Gather Round’, which proved there was no disguising the fact that these guys can really play.

The rave-up that called itself ‘If You Can’t Make Me Happy’ came next and everybody started to loosen up and feet began to tap along with the beat. What followed next, much to everyone’s delight, was that she partnered the audience in an hypnotic dance through each of the wonderful numbers on her new album

It’s hard to believe that Kirsty and her Troubadours could make the songs shine anymore brightly than they do on ‘Pure Blue Green’, but amazingly Kirsty and her band manage to give each number an extra sparkle. Instead of faithful reproductions, the tunes become more urgent and vivid while Kirsty’s stunning voice breathed new life into the songs, establishing a living character for each one. The calypso tinged ‘Shine All Your Light with it’s dazzling steel drum solo, or the surprise blaze through Plan B’s ‘She Said’ were highlights of an otherwise excellent set. But by far the pinnacle of the evening was the duet with acoustic guitarist Jasper, whose graceful playing teased out the subtle intricacies of the song and perfectly complimented Kristy’s sumptuous vocal lines.


Gather Round
If You Can't Make Me Happy
Couldn't You Just
Cool Down Rewind
It Scares Me
Wrong Mr Right
Wish You Well
She Said (Plan B cover version)
The Circle Song
Late At Night (duet with Jasper)
Shine All Your Light
I'll Fight

Rolling back on the last train home and thinking about the nights winning performance, as I pass Emmaline, Cristobel and Sylvia I’m sure it won’t be too long before the name of another sister connected to Manchester is also up in lights. Treat yourself and go buy the album here:

Review by Phil
Photos by Mel - more photos here:
Special thanks to Lucy Holland