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Ex ‘Oasis’ rhythm guitarist Paul Arthurs, AKA Bonehead is back where he belongs, performing onstage in an inventive collaboration with Salford singer/song writer/acclaimed poet, Vinny Peculiar. The new band, ‘Parlour Flames’, is very much in its infancy with only a few gigs to date, but the show at Deaf Institute, Manchester suggests that this talented five piece band have already developed a profound chemistry and cultured sound that is psychedelic in spirit and ingenious in nature.

There was an air of expectancy about ‘Parlour Flames’ with Bonehead’s return. We all recognised his talent from the 90s so it was interesting to see how this had been harnessed over the years. The result was not disappointing! This is a very different style from the heavy rock n roll anthems associated with past Manchester giants, ‘Oasis’. What was on offer was a measured and more intricate fluid performance of soft psychedelic rock which still encompassed a certain part of Manchester’s soul, stripped back and laid out for all to bear witness. The set didn’t start off in this manner as the opening songs were cheery, solid rhythmic indie music played at a moderate pace with some great little riffs thrown into the mix. ‘Manchester Rain’ was included in this, a song to capture the heart of our city with weather that binds us, probably what sparks so much creativity in our world…nowt else to do, can’t go out, might as well write something in our misery! It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth song that the true worth and strength of ‘Parlour Flames’ prevailed. ‘The End’ was the first sign of a style change, starting acoustically and expressed melancholy but gathered volume as the song neared its finish. ‘Pop Music, Football and Girls’ is a statement befitting of Mancunia and a nation, but this had a very chirpy Nashville country feel. ‘Never Heard of You’ is a soft atmospheric track that was heightened by the stage turning a mystical red to add more ambience.

Vinny Peculiar, the charming eccentric frontman grows into the show, singing in a very Bowie-esque manner of the Ziggy Stardust era, almost narrating us through each song like a storyteller. His lyrics carry a certain devious poetic prowess which become more apparent as we enter the darker side of the set, and he never fails to engage the audience by explaining the meaning behind each song, wanting us to reach the wavelength he hit when he found inspiration for each lyric.

'Somebody Love me’ is eerie with some fine pedal work from Bonehead that really captures a stoned immaculate feeling, almost like a stripped back and chilled psychedelic version of Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ in the melody with a heavy bass line. Songs gradually become edgier and atmospheric, and the crowd became entranced into what was turning out to be a very intriguing performance. If the start of the show was cheery, the end was becoming a relaxed, but eerily intimate affair with meandering spacey guitars that were beautifully unhurried that could slip the soberest of people into a drug induced coma. This trend extends to the finale, ‘Too Soon The Darkness’, a song very personal to Vinny, and a fine way to end what was a terrific display. The set ended to cries for “more”, but ‘Parlour Flames’ don’t yet have enough material to produce an encore, and I stress the word yet! Musical maturity has really suited Bonehead, and if you compare where former band mates are now with what they’re creating, then this could rank as highly if not better in the long term. The album will be released sometime in Spring and I for one cannot wait to get it on, turn off all the lights and be shrouded in pitch blackness, lie on the floor, and let it uncontrollably absorb into my soul!

Review by Nigel Cartner
Photos by Matt Johnston

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