Whether you’re pro Skepta or pro scepticism, the Mercury Prize once again claimed music industry headlines last week for its voting system, cover versions, copycat planetary awards and worthy winner. It’s worth noting that Manchester is more often than not a destination for Mercury shortlisters past and future. Indeed, part of the joy of gigs is seeing the next big thing before and after the twin totems of whirlwind fame or critical acclaim. No doubt nestled within this week’s live melody makers there’ll be a couple sniffing around the awards ceremonies yet to come. Read on to work out who they are.
Stadium rock opera movie hybrid Gutterdämmerung features a cast of personalities whose careers are way beyond needing a Mercury shot in the arm (and not from the UK in any case). The film, starring Lemmy, Josh Homme, Grace Jones, Henry Rollins and more, will be screened while a crackshot collection of riff merchants jam out its soundtrack at the Academy.
Monday 19th’s less bombastic balladeers are soulful Icelander Júníus Meyvant, whose Gullivers gig will showcase his knack for a harmonious horn-laden chorus, while potential future Mercury token jazz trio Taupe reside over the road at Castle Hotel.
Skipping a planet in this week’s Milky Way, Wednesday 21st arrives with a former Mercury finalist in the shape of 2003 nominee Soweto Kinch. The sax commanding wordsmith, Radio 3 DJ and all round creative will be joined at the Pen:Chant cabaret by beatboxing prodigy Bellatrix and comedy sketch troupe Gein’s Family Giftshop.
Thursday 22nd is one of those days when anyone and everyone could be a future prizewinner, with buzz band indie rockers Sundara Karma (Ritz), Warp Records electronic chaps Plaid (Deaf Institute), FWF x ERC supergroup The Moonlandingz (White Hotel), circuit surf boarders gathered under the Cheesy Chips banner for an 8-bit sonic (the Hedgehog) experience (Texture) and part one of French prog rockers Magma‘s two-day stint at Band on the Wall, while Davros & The Deep Space Deviants (Ruby Lounge) even appeared on car crash gimmick contest Britain’s Got Talent.
Once you’ve sifted through those six, you’ll presumably have a taster of the painstaking process of a Mercury Prize judge. Rather than dwelling on it, Friday 23rd’s weekend opening salvo fires across hip young Leeds indie riff slingers Brothers Water at Gullivers; two-headed Manc hardcorists The Hyena Kill over Oldham Street at the Castle Hotel; or former Mercury namedrop MIA’s politicised electro mashing WHP relaunch at the Store Street car park
The launches continue into Saturday 24th, when local folk rockers Taylor and the Mason raise a glass to their new LP by gigging at First Chop Brewery. And night owls will have a hoot welcoming Adam Beyer et al to Manchester for this year’s Warehouse Project opening weekend.
Rounding off the week, we’ve picked out disapproving punk poppers The Tuts‘ Castle Hotel jive and summed up the smooth jazz pianist Jodie Abacus‘ audience at Deaf Institute with a Sunday night equation.