On Saturday the sun was shining on Levenshulme, making it the perfect day for a festival.
The Neck of The Woods Festival took place at The Klondyke which is a fantastic venue for live music.
It has a large outdoor space which played host to its outdoor stage as well as stalls, food vendors and a bouncy castle and a football net for the kids.
The main stage was inside in a large function suite perfect for a festival of this scale.
The crowds outside far outweighed the crowds inside for most of the day as we seldom have good weather in Manchester, and everyone was certainly making the most of it but in the evening the indoor stage came alive, and the party got better and better.
The main stage was kicked off by the father and son duo Man & Boy. Fast, furious and filled with energy this band took the Neck of the Woods festival by the horns and showed us all a flavour of the quality of music to come throughout the rest of the day. After they’d finished it was time to head outside to soak up the sunshine and see what was happening on the outdoor stage.
The fantastic Cory Foster was first up on the outdoor stage showing off a shed load of immense acoustic talent. Cory’s set was filled with relatable lyrics that everyone felt a connection with and was topped off by a rendition of Don’t Trust Me by 3OH!3 that got everyone singing along.
The second band of the day on the main stage were the 50s, 60s and 70s inspired Manchester legends, The Be Positives. This band really do take you on a journey through the decades with their original tunes. You can see their influences ranging from rock ‘n’ roll, Merseybeat and Psychedelia with modern twists throughout resembling the likes of The Coral and Inspiral carpets.
Tay Temple was up next and blew away the crowd with her indie rock edge and foot stomping beats. Each member of the band provided something excellent to the band but a big shoutout certainly needs to go out to Tay for having the most festival glam look of the day and getting everyone in the party mood with her wonderful tunes.
It’s impossible to have missed the hype surrounding Alex Spencer with him being just 14 and already being championed by Liam Gallagher, Lady Gaga and many more of the great and the good in the business. This performance is the second time I have seen him with his band, and I am certain big things lie in wait for them all as their mixture of originals and singalong covers got everyone going on the Klondyke bowling green. The talent displayed by all members at such a young age makes you feel very positive about the music scenes future.
Minerva Daisy felt almost dreamlike and floaty. She gave me very clear Kate Bush vibes and her beautiful voice matched the tone of the day perfectly. The best way to describe her music would be ethereal and at times ambient which was a great bit of variety for the ears in the day.
As we headed on into the afternoon Test Card Girl took to the outdoor stage to offer up a plethora of laid back tunes, relatable lyrics and a little bit of attitude. The music really suited the venue and felt very outdoor festival. This made them a firm favourite of most of the audience who tuned into what they were doing from the get-go.
Mr Matthew Fisher were very different and changed the pace of the festival right from the moment they played their first note. I was initially expecting just one person to come onstage and possibly perform acoustically but ended up being surprised by a band that I really couldn’t pigeonhole. At times I felt like they had a New Romantic side to them but at other times they felt very alternative rock and indie. I can’t wait to see more from these in the future.
Whilst in the beer queue I took a slight detour to catch some of The Perps set which was jam packed with elements of punk, Madchester and Britpop. They commanded their audience and everyone who saw them commented on their sound, their liveliness and made it clear they would be back to see them again in the future.
Closing the outdoor stage for the day were Urban Theory who deviated from their regular indie rock set up to bring us a more chilled out acoustic set. Performing their many originals it was a perfect backdrop to a Summer’s Day and gave us all one last chill before the evening’s festivities indoors began.
I don’t think it’s a festival if The Pagans SOH are not on the bill and this festival was no different. You feel like you’ve become part of something when they’re on stage, everyone is in the room for the same reason and that’s to dance around, get sweaty and have a good time. Their sound has a flavour of everything that has been good about the last 50 years of music ranging from hip hop and funk right through to indie, metal and beyond. You don’t know whether to mosh, skank, headbang or disco dance, but I can guarantee that whatever you choose, you’ll get absolutely right with this band and be a lifelong fan afterwards.
The Haciendas rocked the main stage with their unique sound that blends Britpop, Madchester and indie with heavier rock elements and little hints of pop-punk. Lead singer, Tom Smith, feels like a natural lead vocalist. He is exactly who you expect to be fronting a band like this, and the audience was well and truly on board with him and the rest of the band on the musical journey they were taking us on.
Next up one of the festival organisers had the chance to shine, Sam Brunt and his band Suave Martyrs. Suave Martyrs exploded onto the Manchester music scene a few years ago and have been getting onto every bill and headlining at some of the most incredible venues and festivals. They demonstrated exactly why this is at the Neck of The Woods festival as they graced the stage with their coolness, outstanding songs and confident swagger. The only way is up for these lads.
The penultimate act of the night was the legendary Rowetta; bursting through the back doors and straight onto the stage, she emerged to the largest audience of the day, looking just as fashionable and fabulous as ever. Her vocals are second to none, and she had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand. I do think she could have been showcased even better had she had a backing band as she sang along to backing tracks which made the experience feel karaoke slightly and didn’t do her legendary status the justice it deserved. I liked how she gave shout-outs to various audience members, further cementing the fact that she is a staple of the Manchester scene and will continue to be forever.
Last but not least, the night’s final act, a firm favourite of mine, Dirty Laces. Dirty Laces embody the Manchester spirit, indie attitude and Britpop nostalgia whilst also throwing in some dirty guitar solos and gritty punk rock attitude that we have come to know and love about them. Charlie, the lead singer, seems to command the stage effortlessly and makes the microphone his own. They really come across as being tight-knit and very much focused on the direction they’re heading in, which, by the looks of things, is to the stars.
This festival was excellent, and I do have to express some guilt for not getting to see everyone inside the venue due to getting carried away by the incredible atmosphere and weather outside.
Ruth Murray and Sam Brunt did an excellent job showcasing some of the finest acts on the scene. The venue is becoming a firm favourite of mine, primarily as a festival venue, as the sheer size of the building and outdoor space lends itself perfectly to this.
Getting home afterwards, I’ll have to admit, was nothing short of a nightmare due to the wide variety of large-scale events that were taking place in Manchester on the same day, so next time I’d like to see it on a slightly less busy day, but gigs are back in full swing, and people are enjoying themselves so I can’t complain too much.
I am already looking to pencil this into the diary for next year as it was such a fun festival with an excellent line-up, and I see it only getting better.