From Alabama country to Zamrock, an eclectic look at Manchester's summer gigs
Summer can be a bit of a washout when it comes to gigs in Manchester with many venues massively stripping back their calendars while the students vacate the city and everyone gets muddy at festivals. But we've still put together an August gig guide worth paying attention to.
As always, we only include shows that haven't sold out at the time of writing and we try to cover as broad a range of genres as we can. This month's guide has country, soul and disgusting heavy metal.
Read on for our pick of Manchester's gigs for August.
H.E.R | O2 Victoria Warehouse | Monday 2 August
The Grammy and Academy Award-winning H.E.R. has been called the future of modern R&B. Her musical output spans heartfelt ballads about naive romance to late-night smooth neo-soul vibes. 2021 studio debut, Back of My Mind delivers glistening 80's pop production reminiscent of the R&B genealogy of Janet Jackson or Sade but with a more contemporary millennial feel. Think dreamy pop grooves, trap beats and falsetto serenades. Back of My Mind depicts 23-year-old Gabriella Wilson's story as she navigates her way through her experiences of young womanhood, most notably in songs like guitar-focused Mean It. She reaches even further into her black American identity with soulful, powerful tracks like Bloody Waters. H.E.R. somehow manages to encompass vulnerable femininity, sleek sexuality and politics in a running time of 79 minutes. Her energetic live performances cement her future R&B legend status.
The Untold Orchestra - Curtis Mayfield's Superfly: 50th Anniversary | Blues Kitchen | Wednesday 3 August
The Untold Orchestra are back at Blues Kitchen, this time to celebrate the life of sophisticated soul sensation Curtis Mayfield. He doesn't really need an introduction, let's just say he was the coolest guy in the music business. Curtis inspired musicians with his blending of the R&B and soul genres, distinguished falsetto vocals, unmistakable fashion style, and smooth groove. The Untold Orchestra will cover the best of Mayfield's discography, from his funk-laden debut album Curtis to the deep hits of Supafly. The Untold Orchestra never disappoint when honouring their favourite artists and this one's sure to be a typically fantastic show.
Goldie | Joshua Brooks | Friday 5 August
Jungle legend Goldie along with Kemistry & Storm took the U.K. drum and bass scene by storm in the 90s with their Metalheadz label and dominated the rave scene. Goldie is back to showcase the best of the genre at an intimate performance at Joshua Brooks this August. Established for delving deep into the vault with hard-hitting sets, Goldie supplies his showgoers with enough mutated rhythms and ambient acid-jazz techstep tracks to make their heads spin. So, whether you're not old enough to remember the days of "jungle massive" or want to revive your jaw-swinging days - Goldie's set of contorted chaos is not to be missed.
WITCH | YES | Monday 15 August
Zamrock is a genre that emerged from Zambia in the 1970s, heavily inspired by British psychedelia and classic rock bands. WITCH are an encompassment of both their inspirations and their culture with technical Afrobeat rhythms and mind-bending guitar commotion. The 2019 music documentary WITCH: We Intend To Cause Havoc showcased the band's pioneering influence on Zamrock, centring around the life of the band's frontman Emmanuel Chanda, also known as Jagari (an Africanisation of Rolling Stones' Jagger). Not many could have foreseen WITCH's mighty return after the many devastating political and circumstantial struggles the band faced in their time. Still, through the release of their documentary and the popularity of the band's music, they are returning with a European tour.
GWAR | Club Academy | Wednesday 17 August
If your prerequisites for gigs are that the people on stage must look like characters from Dungeons and Dragons and you have to leave covered in unidentified sticky fluids, you might want to explore those feelings with a psychiatrist. While you wait in line with the rest of us for a mental health phone assessment, there’s always a GWAR gig for your one last hurrah. Never heard of 'em? Add their Grammy-nominated film, Phallus in Wonderland to your weekend watch list. Sold? Fashion yourself an udder-shaped jockstrap out of one of your lockdown overstock of rubber gloves and some tripe and get learning the words to classic heavy metal songs such as Stalin’s Organs, Sex Cow and (Gordo’s favourite) Blimey. Keep the vileness alive after the show by picking up something from their extensive merch range, like this GWAR BQ sauce. Words: Kelly Bishop @thekelpage
Drake White | Band on the Wall | Sunday 21 August
Alabama-raised country singer Drake White was told by doctors he’d never perform again after he collapsed on stage due to a hemorrhagic stroke in 2019. Looks like he disagreed. Anyone who’s seen his shows will know that this is a man whose life-blood is live performance. His weekly Wednesday Night Therapy sessions during lockdown kept him (and us) going during the gig-starved pandemic months. Now he’s back in the UK ahead of his headline slot at Long Road Festival and audiences can expect an uplifting and energetic mix of gospel, soul, blues, funk - and of course country. He’s been named as one of Rolling Stone’s Ten Country Musicians to Know About. We can say the same about this gig. Words: Sarah Tierney @bodyconfidential
Psychedelic Porn Crumpets | Band On The Wall | 25 August
Don't let their acid-inspired name turn you off - Psychedelic Porn Crumpets are an experience you need. Their fifth studio album, Night Gnomes, released in April earlier this year, is a kaleidoscopic journey that has thrust this psych band to new heights. The album's lead single Terminus The Creator launches the listener into a warped world of loud, fuzzed-up riffs that reach down towards the eardrum and tickle the brain. Psychedelic Porn Crumpets tightly fit amongst their fellow Australian psych-rock freaks (King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Pond, ORB, Dope Lemon, Gum) but what separates them is their pure technicality and refreshing production skills.
The National | Depot Mayfield | 27 August
Brooklyn-based The National have been together for over 20 years but only saw significant success in the second half of their career. Their melancholy lyrics and heart-wrenchingly relatable music gained them a reputation as a "sad dad" band but in reality, Matt Berninger challenges the things we're told not to talk about. In 2019, their eighth studio album I Am Easy To Find enlisted a troupe of female vocalists to discuss femininity, vulnerability, childhood, relationships and the hardships of the family home. Fans like me will relish their emotional return to Manchester. Support comes from London post-punkers Dry Cleaning.
Joyce Sims | Band On The Wall | 28 August
Disco diva and singer-songwriter Joyce Sims never massively broke into the mainstream, despite making the R&B Top 30 and Top 10 records in America. Her 1980s singles Come Into My Life and All and All have nevertheless become club classics and remain popular 12" spins on many Soul and R&B nights. She's also been sampled by the likes of Randy Crawford and Snoop Dogg and you may recognise her music from the soundtrack for the film Species. Joyce will perform her hits at one of the best music venues in Manchester.
Dope Lemon | O2 Ritz | 30 August
The Australian psychedelic rock fest doesn't stop with the Crumpets, Dope Lemon's luscious surf pop makes them a little more accessible though. Starting life as a solo project by Angus Stone whose Dylan-esque vocals and Jim Morrison snarl perfectly suit these warm summer days, this latest release, third album Rose Pink Cadillac is a dream listen. Think sweet harmonies, chic guitar licks and sugary pop production for fans of Mac Demarco's Salad Days and Tame Impala's Currents.
Main image: Dope Lemon by James Adams
Read again: Our gig guide for Manchester: July 2022
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