âA Slice of Niceâ in association with âForever Manchesterâ
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.
Krazy Horse â
Rosie Barrett â www.facebook.com/rosiebarrettmusic
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, weâre 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 âA Slice of Niceâ in association with âForever Manchesterâ.
Barefooted and silver-ponytailed, Krazy Horse is cantering through his show-opening set â drawing curious punters in with his Native American squawks and rousing ditties about life, loves and cussing.
âIâve been married five times,â he confesses â pebble-eyes twinkling mischievously. âThree times to the same girl. She was Schizophrenic. No wonder Iâm so relaxed!â Itâs typical inter-song banter from the self-styled entertainer with 300-plus songs under his buckskin belt.
âHere Againâ â an ode to reincarnation â precedes âYouâve Turned Your Life Aroundâ with its crowd-pleasing âHello. How are you? Youâre looking goodâ refrain.
âI didnât think Iâd ever sing my own songs to an audience,â âKrazyâ smiles before regaling us with the tale of a chance train encounter with a beautiful girl at the tender age of 16. Itâs a hook for the celebratory âLooking Back Down The Road Of Yesterdayâ which recalls a life well spent.
âBe Yourselfâ â dedicated to identikit Mancunian âGallaghersâ – is the set piece. Shoe-less, guitar strapped on, an unapologetically-barroom vocal soaringâ¦ heart as open and limitless as the great plains – âKrazyâ is who he is and two fingers to you if you donât like it!
Sitting in the crowd is interloper Rosie Barrett. Sheâs 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 strapâ¦ a quick intake of breath.
âIâve just moved here from Jersey. The crowds are friendlierâ¦â
Straight into âRockstarâ â a starry-eyed, car wreck of a love story.
Lyrically, itâs steeped in a teen-pop sensibility (think Avril Lavigneâs âSkater Boiâ) but her ear-pleasing chord progressions and vocalisation speak of waters that run deeper. âShakingâ and âTimeâ cement her status as one to watch and crucially leave you wanting more.
Itâs a good job weâve 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 Preachersâ âYour Love Alone Is Not Enoughâ video on which she played drums, and of the Kylie Minogue Lexus advert, Kateâs already had a taste for fame. Listening to her efforts here, itâs clear sheâs 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 â âChildâs Playâ wrote from the perspective of Anne Frank; âPrince of Thievesâ which is âRobin Hood gone bad and âWonderlandâ for anyone who has ever been âlost in their headâ.
Blues, funk and rock have all been chucked into the washing machine on full cycle. Sheâs brave, bold and brilliantly knackeringâ¦ KT Tunstall wired up to the mains and turned up to â11â.
The arrival of Saleâs own Nick Whitehorn heralds a downward shift in gear. Weâre 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. Weâve got an undemanding soundtrack to enjoy as the afternoon winds down.
âYouâre A Leopard. Your Spots Donât Changeâ, âTake Careâ and âGuess Who?â bob along nicelyâ¦ a collection of disjointed phrases brought together by pleasant instrumental strumming.
âYouthâ is more accomplished. âI was thinking, would you do things differently if you could?â Nick explains in his intro. If lyrics like âWoollen jumpers, skin-tight jeans/Diet consists of cheap baked beansâ feel a bit Ed âcrumbling like pastryâ Sheeran, at least it shows heâs dialled into the popular consciousness. Of all todayâs 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 canât stay for the final acts. As I unfurl my brolly and turn up my collar – ready to head out into the night – I know Iâm missing outâ¦
For music, cake and Manchester lovers everywhere âA Slice of Niceâ is a must-do for the last Sunday of every month. Admission is free but all donations are in aid of âForever Manchesterâ.