‘A Slice of Nice’ in association with ‘Forever Manchester’
Black Dog Ballroom Northern Quarter, Sunday 28 October

Visit http://forevermanchester.com/events/a-slice-of-nice/ for details of the line-up on Sunday, November 25.
Artist Information
Krazy Horse –
Rosie Barrett – www.facebook.com/rosiebarrettmusic
We.Are.Alien –
Nick Whitehorn

At street level the rain is pounding; Sunday shoppers zipping in and out of rakish Northern Quarter boutiques.

Here, cocooned in the womb-like basement of the Black Dog Ballroom, we’re shaking off the yolk of our hangovers with the help of cheap wine, penny sweets, zillion-calorie cakes and a hefty dollop of acoustic music courtesy of ‘A Slice of Nice’ in association with ‘Forever Manchester’.

Barefooted and silver-ponytailed, Krazy Horse is cantering through his show-opening set – drawing curious punters in with his Native American squawks and rousing ditties about life, loves and cussing.

“I’ve been married five times,” he confesses – pebble-eyes twinkling mischievously. “Three times to the same girl. She was Schizophrenic. No wonder I’m so relaxed!” It’s typical inter-song banter from the self-styled entertainer with 300-plus songs under his buckskin belt.

‘Here Again’ – an ode to reincarnation – precedes ‘You’ve Turned Your Life Around’ with its crowd-pleasing ‘Hello. How are you? You’re looking good’ refrain.

“I didn’t think I’d ever sing my own songs to an audience,” ‘Krazy’ smiles before regaling us with the tale of a chance train encounter with a beautiful girl at the tender age of 16. It’s a hook for the celebratory ‘Looking Back Down The Road Of Yesterday’ which recalls a life well spent.
‘Be Yourself’ – dedicated to identikit Mancunian ‘Gallaghers’ – is the set piece. Shoe-less, guitar strapped on, an unapologetically-barroom vocal soaring… heart as open and limitless as the great plains – ‘Krazy’ is who he is and two fingers to you if you don’t like it!

Sitting in the crowd is interloper Rosie Barrett. She’s not officially on the billing but ready to prove why she should be. Sidling up to the mic with her hoodie sleeves stretched down to her fingernails, she feeds her gangly frame through her guitar strap… a quick intake of breath.

“I’ve just moved here from Jersey. The crowds are friendlier…”

Straight into ‘Rockstar’ – a starry-eyed, car wreck of a love story.

Lyrically, it’s steeped in a teen-pop sensibility (think Avril Lavigne’s ‘Skater Boi’) but her ear-pleasing chord progressions and vocalisation speak of waters that run deeper. ‘Shaking’ and ‘Time’ cement her status as one to watch and crucially leave you wanting more.

It’s a good job we’ve had cake and a pause for breath before We.Are.Alien take to the stage. Literally a one-woman band, Kate Hannah is a force of nature -simultaneously pounding the bass drum, abusing a guitar and unleashing three-headed Cerberus vocals over emotionally fraught musical opuses.

A veteran of the Manic Street Preachers’ ‘Your Love Alone Is Not Enough’ video on which she played drums, and of the Kylie Minogue Lexus advert, Kate’s already had a taste for fame. Listening to her efforts here, it’s clear she’s hell-bent on emerging into the solo spotlight.

After a sweetly ditzy self-introduction, she all but dislocates her jaw in her terrifying bid to GET THE VOCALS OUT over the course of six gruelling numbers that leave you a curious mess of impressed, scared, exhilarated and physically exhausted.

There are some big and (at times) outlandish ideas going on here – ‘Child’s Play’ wrote from the perspective of Anne Frank; ‘Prince of Thieves’ which is ‘Robin Hood gone bad and ‘Wonderland’ for anyone who has ever been ‘lost in their head’.

Blues, funk and rock have all been chucked into the washing machine on full cycle. She’s brave, bold and brilliantly knackering… KT Tunstall wired up to the mains and turned up to ‘11’.

The arrival of Sale’s own Nick Whitehorn heralds a downward shift in gear. We’re back to easy, breezy acoustics that remind us our glasses are empty and there are kiddie sweets on the table. The pockets of conversation that Kate brought to a swift stop have now begun in earnest. We’ve got an undemanding soundtrack to enjoy as the afternoon winds down.

‘You’re A Leopard. Your Spots Don’t Change’, ‘Take Care’ and ‘Guess Who?’ bob along nicely… a collection of disjointed phrases brought together by pleasant instrumental strumming.

‘Youth’ is more accomplished. “I was thinking, would you do things differently if you could?” Nick explains in his intro. If lyrics like “Woollen jumpers, skin-tight jeans/Diet consists of cheap baked beans” feel a bit Ed ‘crumbling like pastry’ Sheeran, at least it shows he’s dialled into the popular consciousness. Of all today’s offerings so far, Nick is arguably the most commercially marketable.

Time has gained an elastic quality in this subterranean haven. The official 6pm finish has been overshot which means I can’t stay for the final acts. As I unfurl my brolly and turn up my collar – ready to head out into the night – I know I’m missing out…

For music, cake and Manchester lovers everywhere ‘A Slice of Nice’ is a must-do for the last Sunday of every month. Admission is free but all donations are in aid of ‘Forever Manchester’.

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