Words by Ian Pennington

This week’s live music neatly brings us to the end of November – a time when, whisper it, Xmas party bookings are starting to sink their claws. So for one more week, enjoy the freedom of selecting from the best of Manchester’s touring schedule.

One of a glut of gigs at the Cathedral, US electric folky Sharon van Etten makes the pilgrimage on Monday 24th.

Or if you’re more in the market for something to blast the sleep from your early week eyes, try van Etten’s compatriots, Mastodon, who’re grinding axes at Academy 1 on the same night.

For a similar dichotomy of choices on Tuesday 25th, draw straws between the mellow acoustic vibes of The Rural Alberta Advantage at Soup Kitchen and energetic, tinnitus wielding Yorkshire grungemen Allusondrugs at Sound Control.

The Deers’ show at the Castle Hotel makes for a frivolously lo-fi third option.

Talib Kweli is an artist who wears his politics of social justice on his sleeve, mirroring his aim for conscious hip hop. Mic in hand, his mouth will be motoring in top gear over a deft array of jazzy cuts at Sound Control on Wednesday 26th.

Thursday 27th is one for the bluesmen. While Manchester emigrant and musical troubadour John Fairhurst expresses his blues through a range of guitar styles developed across the world, Beans on Toast favours his lyrics as a delivery vehicle. The former will be playing at Band on the Wall; the latter at Ruby Lounge.

If there’s a reason to groove on Friday 28th, then Curtis Harding is it. The funk throwback will be housed in the Soup Kitchen basement.

Elsewhere, cult indie jokers Half Man Half Biscuit embark on a big show at The Ritz

Set aside the full day on Saturday 29th to stride the Night & Day Café floorboards. The second edition of their Psych Fest begins from 3pm, with Scouse sound warpers Clinic named as headliners.

Otherwise, set aside the full weekend at Islington Mill, where first up on Saturday is the Kate Bush for the sampling generation, Shield Patterns.

Back there on Sunday 30th, sack mask wearing soundscapists Horrid round off the month with a show to mark their imminent LP.

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