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The evening prior to this gig saw Manchester city centre awash with all kinds of beautiful people, taking to the street to protest in a 'Slut Walk'. Gathering to make a unified and forceful protest with the aim of dislodging the notion that the clothes a woman wears can somehow give an excuse for any manner of sexual abuse. The catalyst that has sparked this reaction into life was remarks made by Canadian police officer Michael Sanguinetti, who suggested at a safety forum that in order to not invite attack, ‘Women should avoid dressing like sluts’. Quite rightly people were outraged by this observation that women are culpable in provoking sexual assault and were soon galvanised into a public display of condemnation. Unsurprisingly the wisdom of using ‘slut’ has triggered fierce debate with some quarters questioning the wisdom of using the word with all its negative connotations. However that shouldn’t divert the focus of the core argument, which was succinctly put in a chant I heard echo through the evening: ‘However we dress and wherever we go, yes means yes and no means NO! Blunt? Without doubt, but lots of women on the march took great delight in using that particular sledgehammer to hopefully crack a few nuts. Which brings me rather neatly to the Pieces show at the Ruby Lounge; another evening again dominated by talented females, though I should state that other than that, there was no connection between these two events.  

The first act to take the stage is Katie Foulkes in her guise as Delta Maid. Katie has just released a really great debut LP called ‘Outside Looking In’ which deserves your attention and from which she plays a selection for tonight. With nothing to accompany her except her guitar, it’s easy to hear that Delta Maid’s has a clear linage back to the blues. Her songs coast along pleasantly enough, and as warm up acts go, it was a perfect way to ease into an evening of music.


Next up is Alice Gold who is probably playing the last shows of this size and intimacy before she moves up to larger venues and crowds. She skips into her short set with the forceful ‘Seasons Change’, the opening track from her forthcoming debut CD ‘Seven Rainbows. It’s an impressive start from the London based Gold and her band and sets the standard for the rest of the evening. Next is single ‘Runaway Love’ which gives Gold the chance to showcase her distinctive voice, which suits the song’s heavy and anthemic guitar work. It’s an intriguing concoction that Gold’s created that’s equal parts up beat heavy rock and glossy pop, which only works when it’s done well and tonight Gold does it very well indeed.  However despite such strong material on display the runt of the litter is new single ‘Cry Cry Cry’ which displays the lighter and more melodic side of her song writing, though when it’s surrounded by it’s harder and tougher siblings as it is tonight, it sounds decidedly underwhelming. Perhaps it’ll come into it’s own as a stand alone track on the radio, but on this occasion it struggles to catch fire. The set is brought to a conclusion with the lithe and thunderous ‘Orbiter’ On the whole it’s a spirited and enjoyable performance from an artist beginning to flex her muscles.

Set List :
Seasons Change
Runaway Love
How Long Can These Streets Be Empty?
And You'll Be There
Conversations Of Love
Cry Cry Cry
Sadness Is Coming

Finally it’s the turn of radio sensations The Pierces who are Catherine and Allison Pierce to drip their honeyed harmonies onto the Ruby Lounge crowd and they hit the ground running with the effortlessly beautiful ‘Love You More’ from current hit album ‘You and I’ The Pierces music is unashamedly MOR complete with soring vocals and totally infectious hooks.  Current single ‘Glorious is a perfect example of their art and it goes down a storm with the crowd when it gets an airing. Over the course of the four LP’s the Pierces have released, the girls now have a large repertoire from which to assemble their set. However not all the songs on show tonight are as classy as ‘Love You More’ or the one two three song ‘You’ll Be Mine’, because songs like ‘Sticks and Stones’ veer a little too far from west coast pop and a little too much into country music. Still this small anomaly doesn’t change the fact that the majority of the songs the Pierces play tonight are buffed to a mirror shine, especially the dreamy ‘I Put Your Records On’ and the Fleetwood Mac Abba hybrid, ‘Boring’

Set List:
Love You More
It Will Not Be Forgotten
Drag You Down
Space And Time
You'll Be Mine
Sticks And Stones
The Good Samaritan
Close My Eyes
Kissing You Goodbye
We Are Stars
I Put Your Records On
City On Fire

Review/photos by Phil King