Words by Ian Pennington

I start typing this week’s blog in a cautious frame of mind given the news that Raif Badawi, a blogger who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes in Saudi Arabia for the crime of opining on the internet, is now looking at the death penalty as cries of apostasy ring around the courtroom.

Those who certainly aren’t renouncing their former way of life are those who’ve arranged tonight’s fundraiser for Salford Royal Infirmary Intensive Care Unit at FAC 251. They’re keeping the flame burning for popular hip hop and drum and bass gig-goer Salford John, who was killed two years ago. The specially formed 8 Gold Rings band take top billing, and the night’s worth of MCs reads like a who’s who of the genre in Manchester, including Soul:ution’s residents, Levelz and plenty more.

After that, an evening slouched in front of the telly might be appealing, so Manchester Film Co-op have you covered on Tuesday 3rd. They’re screening the political documentary Inequality For All at the Work for Change Co-op in Hulme. Perhaps one for the Saudis to consider.

Tuesday is also the opening day of Sick! Festival, a series of theatre productions focusing on mental health themes that’s been imported from Brighton. Make sure you bob into their Hunt & Darton pop-up café for a brew – it’s in one of the old retail units on the ramp up to Piccadilly train station.

On a musical note, Pennsylvanian folkie Vikesh Kapoor is heading to Takk for an intimate show of campfire tales in dulcet tones.

Not sounding dissimilar to FKA Twigs, Tinashe rocks up to Gorilla on Wednesday 4th for a show of Kentuckian RnB.

Back on the folkie trail on Thursday 5th, Kate Stables’ pastoral lilts as This Is The Kit will be shimmering through Deaf Institute rafters. Her new albums lands in April.

Manchester Art Gallery’s contribution to Wonder Women Week in the lead-up to International Women’s Day features a Feminist Takeover from 5.30pm in their Thursday Lates slot. The variety of artists and performers include Deborah Barrett, Sadie Blythin and Nina Bristow.

Cranking up the volume and tempo once more for Friday 6th, we have a pair of shows testing the limits of our capacity for sound creation. Grey Lantern invite Vision Fortune take on a Soup Kitchen crowd, while Fat Out Till You Pass Out opt for a heavier drone at Islington Mill in the shape of Mugstar.

We have three picks to sate the halfway mark of your weekend:

1)      Local cult psychedelians The Yossarians headline a gig at Star & Garter with Ten Moth Electron and Locean in support.

2)      Another Kentuckian, Joan Shelley, follows her compatriot Tinashe to the city. This time you should expect banjo-led lullabies emanating from Gullivers.

3)      Fallow Café’s regular Golden Egg hip hop jive welcomes back Manchester’s The Natural Curriculum, who’re crawling out of their beats cave into the real world ahead of a purported new record.

Close this chapter of a week with Lucy and the Caterpillar. The singer songwriter who has recently returned to the live circuit is entertaining at The Castle Hotel.

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