REN & JAMES
I am beginning to get it.
Listening to (good) live music is almost akin to the moment you slip beyond the veil and surrender to the reality of enchantment. There is something to be said about hearing the notes move through the same air the musician is playing in and feeling them hang mid-air for a millisecond before they are replaced with other soul-soothing melodies.
Last Saturday starts off like any other day in Manchester - cold, then progressively gets bright enough, but not necessarily warm enough, to tease you into playing outside without your weathered armour. My sister and I fell prey to that well-played prank and got nearly completely drenched as we fought our way to Sale (all trams were down so we joined the massive crowd surrounding a small bus headed to Sale, deciding to leave our fate to the theatre gods) to attend one of Refract:17's shows of the evening. It was kind of fitting come to think of it as the lively theatre and art venue hosting the festival is called Waterside Arts Centre... With 10 mins to spare we joined the other Refract:17 attendees, found some good seats and waited patiently for the show to start.
I find describing music a bit like describing perfume which is to say I find it hard. I will say this though, I really did enjoy the two acts we saw that night; both of whom were new to me but not to Greater Manchester as they have strong roots in this well known borough. James Holt, whose music I would describe to have a more... One Tree Hill soundtrack kind of vibe, kicked off the evening right; he came across as a gentle soul and definitely warmed up the room. I really liked the story behind his song 'Come Out to Play': a young boy who favoured work time over playtime all throughout his life until he noticed his son taking the same path causing him to have a chat with his son about the importance of balance. And I think my favourite song of his so far is 'Tears Aren't Enough' because it made me feel like I was in a car of my own, heading down a motor way with the sun casually streaming in, about to embark on a memorable adventure.
When his set came to a close, we were then introduced to Ren Harvieu and her amazing band. They played some songs that will be finding their way onto her new album (which is coming out next year) as well as some of her earlier stuff. I would say her songs could easily be found on a Supernatural soundtrack; two of my favourites have to be 'I See You' (dedicated to the outcasts in the world) and a playful song about karaoke bars because they both made feel excited and motivated to up the amusement dosage in my everyday in their own ways.
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It is amazing to discover different pockets of this great city I live in and its neighbouring towns and uncovering the art and culture within them. Unfortunately I cannot check out all the events listed in Refract's programme but I am excited to see the next one I have lined up. Like I said earlier Manchester, tell me everything you have to say to me - I am listening.