“It’s Friday night Manchester, are we in a good mood?” shouts Matt Goud as he takes to the Soup Kitchen stage. It’s almost as if he knew it would only be a matter of time before even the biggest cynic would be stomping their feet and singing along.
Whilst sing-alongs and passionate performances ensue, early stage times mean the various local acts opening the show are up against a somewhat smaller and quieter crowd. First up is the ever-growing Joe McCorriston, whose 20-minute set is crammed with songs from his upcoming album. The small crowd take to McCorriston well, and it’s ultimately unfortunate that his set doesn’t last a little longer.
A mere 30 minutes after doors and the evening’s second act takes to the stage. Thankfully the crowd start to filter in just in time to witness a passionate performance from Arms & Hearts. Similar to McCorriston’s set, Steve Millar of Arms & Hearts uses the support slot to promote his upcoming record, and based on what we hear tonight, we can’t wait for more.
The final support slot goes to the aptly named, The Folkestra. From the name alone, you probably get a good idea of what the band are about, and they don’t disappoint. Every instrument, every chord and every subject is reminiscent of folk music’s finest qualities. It’s a refreshing change of pace from an overly familiar bill.
Northcote take to the basement stage shortly after, and quickly fills the room with foot stomps, clapping and mass sing-alongs. The band open with Counting Down the Days, and from the first few chords, the scene is set. Matt soon finds himself jumping into the crowd, high-fiving anyone in range, and a flurry of tracks from their self-titled record follows, as well as new track Hope is Made of Steel.
“There’s a bar back home called The Northern Quarter, we play there when we get back. I’m going to play three hours of Bruce Springsteen and Miley Cyrus… That’s a Northcote fact,” exclaims Matt before launching into several solo songs, including the iconic Worry, as well as a haunting rendition of Speak Freely, and a terrific cover of Chuck Ragan’s The Boat.
With the full band back on stage, they play a mixture of old and new, before closing the night with Hope the Good Things Never Die. If there’s one thing to take from this headline set, it’s that Northcote could (and should) be huge. It’s also worth mentioning that fans of the on hiatus The Gaslight Anthem can rejoice, grow out their beards again and find those flannel shirts. On tonight’s evidence alone, Northcote are more than capable of stepping up and filling the Jersey rockers shoes.