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And as we head towards the years end, what will we take from 2012? The illogical ramblings of a heartless government? The realisation that X factor, is a pre-determined pile of shite? or maybe the Olympic games? where our athletes made us, for once, proud to be British. Unfortunately, I think it all could be washed away by memories of burst river banks, floods, and the never ending rain that caused them. So how fitting it is that my final gig of the year should be to see, The Rainband, who are making a triumphant return to their hometown. Playing to a packed out, and slightly damp, Manchester crowd at the Ritz, but even with its strange curfews, it is my current venue of choice. Quaint ballroom vibe, from its viewing gallery and sprung dance floor, to its up to date lighting, festooned with mirror balls from a bygone era. The curfew maybe not to everyone's liking but at least it lends itself to an efficient, well organised night of entertainment, and also gives plenty of headroom for the last train home. With hardly any deviations from the strict time allocated at 7.30 the first band finished their set. Although I only managed to catch their last few numbers, ‘Within’ seemed like a good tight band with a deep, interesting voice and a nice feel.

Slydigs take to the stage at 7.40, with a healthy, hometown contingent in tow, their interesting grooves and beautifully layered songs are met with the well deserved approval of the crowd. Strong vocal harmonies and great riffs with hook lines to match, coupled with unusual drum beats that swerve from rock one minute to ska the next, ensure that their music never treads water, but surfs skilfully from one song to the next. And with the addition of keyboards and a brass section later in the set, adding an early Stones/Stax vibe, any sign of treading water is dispersed even further. Though not really au fait with this band from my hometown of Warrington, but I intend to check out their blending of Zep grooves and Kaiser type choruses, very soon. An excellent set, which made an hour pass by far too quickly.


And as the rain continued to fall outside, inside, the stage is set for a deluge of an altogether aural kind, as the rainband frontman, Martin Finnigan welcomes the crowd in several languages, including Yorkshire, “ow do”! Haunting keyboard intro and a pulsing bass as Martin quips, “welcome to the home of the two greatest football teams” as the band seep into their opening number. 

Great, galloping rhythms, and quality vocals from faultless drummer Steve Irlam, coupled with the frenetic bass playing of Joe Wilson always ensures that the torrent of songs are driven forward by their powerful current. Phil Rainey, a truly excellent player, meticulously chooses his guitar parts, controlled distortion one minute, to gorgeous, capo’d bell like tones the next. Also adding Keyboards and vocal duties to the bands impressive armoury of sound. And then there’s our very own Rainman, Mr Finnigan. Great voice, with a confident delivery and great stage presence, combining the arrogance of Mr Gallagher, with the intelligence of Mr Albarn. His unflinching eye contact with his audience is a little like a cat stalking its prey, unnerving at times but always focused. His between song patter is sincere, and passionate, especially when he talks about his recent appointment as the ambassador of the late Marco Simoncelli’s charity foundation, and he thanks the Italian contingent who have flown in especially for the gig. (Their single ‘Rise again’ was placed high in the Italian charts and dedicated to the late Moto GP rider who was tragically killed in 2011, with all proceeds going to the foundation).


The hometown crowd are very possessive and take ownership of the band very seriously, waving aloft the number 58 all along the front row. Singing, dancing and responding enthusiastically, creating an almost, party like atmosphere that adds to the warmth and, to the mutual affection.With a more creative edge than many of their contemporaries, I can see their weather front sweeping many an unsuspecting person along, with their infectious hooks and inventive arrangements, and, assuming that the Mayans were wrong about our impending doom, a very bright future, with a heavy downpour of top tunes. Sorted!

As the curfew draws near, they are joined onstage by Martin’s piano teacher sister on keyboards and vocals, for the last number. A nice warm end to the show, and again some top picking from Mr Rainey (great solo too). An impromptu version of ‘Here It Is Merry Christmas’, before setting sail into the first of two encores before bringing the show to a fitting finale.

And with two celebratory fingers aloft, Martin Finnigan thanks the crowd, whose response is fevered and wild, almost sensing the potential heights this band could achieve. And if I were a betting man, I would certainly put a healthy wad on them continuing to batter this rain swept land, into a successful, storming submission. Long may they rain!


Broken Youth
The World We Seek
Roses in the Rain
Two Ways
She's a Rainbow
Careful what you wish for
Come on In
The Prodigal


Here It Is Merry Christmas
Rise Again

Review by Les Glover
Photos by Melanie

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