Manchester Night People
In the city of venues, a newer arrival has made an impact this year. Night People is a great 250 capacity space in a part of the city centre that was one of the few blocks without gigs and has become a gig staple with an imaginative booking policy and a tight compact space that creates a great atmosphere.
It’s somehow perfect that it is here that Cabbage have chosen for their Christmas party.
The venue is, of course, far too small for the band and their mighty throng and is packed beyond belief for a celebration of the kings of wonk year when they somehow established themselves in the bigger league with their gloriously off-kilter music. We always love watching the talented raggamuffin outsiders defying the odds and storming the pop Bastille and Cabbage have certainly done that. When bands arrive without permission we cheer loudly and when it’s a band as great as Cabbage we cheer even louder!
Tonight is a refresher course in just how great their songs are – full of acerbic social comment, surreal play dumb word flow and great tunes they have the place melted into a mosh pit dance hall and a celebratory singalong of the most madcap kind.
The true descendants of the Fall snark, Dead Kennedys gleefull agitation and the Happy Mondays lopsided grooves, Cabbage have found their own space splicing this Mancunian love of the off-kilter, garage rock fuzz and zig zag wander groove into, what tonight, sounds like a greatest hits set.
At some points, you can’t even hear the band as the audience drown them out in mighty singalongs with the surreal word flow becoming part and parcel of the street vernacular. There is always something great about this – when true wonk art becomes part and parcel of the city soundtrack and when the band with their off-kilter sense of humour and righteous political edge somehow mashes all this together to create an entertaining and enthralling one hour plus of greatest hits from parallel universe it makes for the greatest lysergic tea party.
With a top ten album under their belts its interesting to see where Cabbage go next. In our world, their wonk is perfect pop and feels natural in any top ten but in the real world of these ugly times such charming art naivety is shoved to the side. The band, though, sit pretty as an art-rock exercise that somehow managed to grab chart action. This, of course, we celebrate but can they proceed any further into that heart of mainstream darkness or become sucked into decades of underground malingering like the Fall? choices, choices, choices…
They certainly have the tunes for their former and the perfect three-part harmonies when they all collide for a chorus, creating a glorious celebratory racket, it’s a very northern bonhomie and the songs are sung back with the hoarser Manc accents locked into one mighty celebration – a true people’s band with the crisp guitars and the imagination that decorated their music are all to the fore and in this packed sweltering room Cabbage tonight feel like the best band in the world.