Words by Ian Pennington

Now that all your Valentine’s Day dreams have been shattered, it’s time to return to a time when music came before the misery, a time when the lyrics of Thom Yorke and Sharleen Spiteri present a romantic impasse that the prospective couple could never overcome if they were to meet and natter while, say, ‘Texas Radio and the Big Beat’ was playing. The latter would offer a temperate “I don’t want a lover / I just need a friend,” while Yorke, getting his basic amorous arithmetic wrong, would whimper for a while before insisting, “I don’t want to be your friend / I just want to be your lover”. Then Spiteri might add that “You can say what you want, but it won’t change my mind / I feel the same about you,” and that would be that.

Now onto some more harmonious couplings, starting with a Bridgewater Hall show for Ocean Colour Scene on Monday 16th.

You could pitch your tent and spend most of the month at Albert Hall if you’re not careful – its bookings are second to none, and TV On The Radio’s return to the city on Tuesday 17th is a fine example. [Ed. This show has been postponed due to an illness in the band. Check the website for further details]. 

But Tuesday sees some competition from other wordy song crafters. Progressive poetic Canadians The Decemberists are one, playing at Academy 1, and a smaller scale tip takes place at Fallow Café, whose live showcase sees Joey Fourr parking their tour bus and local rockers Salford Media City and The Hipshakes supporting.

Wednesday 18th boasts a less busy schedule, but deadpan punks Girlpool are still worth venturing out for.

The Chinese New Year ushers in the year of the goat on Thursday 19th, and with it come a flurry of promising looking events. Wyles & Simpson call into Soup Kitchen to splice their electronic bleeps and beats, Gullivers plays host to the orchestral pop of Lydia Ainsworth, and Grimm Up North continue their Stephen King series with a trip down memory lane to the 1970s classic Carrie, featuring Sissy Spacek in the title role.

As a relative wildcard, my pick for Thursday takes place at Takk in the form of a live film score of the animated short, The Winter Fly. The music will be composed by Stranger Son’s frontman on vibraphone piano and the loop-building cellist Elizabeth Preston.

This week Beth Orton will be leading a group of female musicians as part of her Wall of Sound residency at Band on the Wall. The culmination of this will be a public performance at the venue itself on Friday 20th.

Later that night, indulge yourself in power ballads at the Ritz. This month, the Ultimate Power team invite you to ‘Cher the night with us’.

Scaling down for Saturday, local electronic pop duo Acre Tarn are headlining a show at the Castle Hotel, staged by the unrelentingly positive promoter, Sunny Manchester.

Returning to the Castle on Sunday, motoric melodian instrumentalists Steelism with have the tonal craft to safely lull you through to next week.

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