Manchester’s Honeyfeet perfectly embrace the joyous, very human experience of live music with a heartwarming celebration of the form that brings the house down and back up again for a standing ovation for their sumptuous, folk, soul, blues hip hop, Tom Waits melange with an added post-punk urgency. John Robb was there to witness the return of a very live music.
A decade in to hone this to perfection and Manchester’s Honeyfeet are perhaps the best-kept secret in the city. A secret that can sell out a huge venue like this, mind. The musical narrative and discourse maybe somewhere else but the band have picked up a big following that welcomes them like musical messiahs in the sold out cavernous Victoriana beauty of the Albert Hall and won’t let them leave the stage without a standing ovation after they deliver two sets of wonderfully heartwarming diverse and inventive music.
Covid times means we are seated at tables but this exotic cabaret arrangement somehow adds to the band’s theatrical shtick as they fill the room with their swirling good vibes and music that is full of the heartbeat of life that lights a beautiful flame in a dystopian time.
The seven-piece band are a musical powerhouse – somehow incorporating New Orleans Swamp blues, strident sassy soul, polka joining the dots, party folk, record collecting exotica, trip-hop with an inventive music that takes trad forms and reinvents them for the now. There is a swirling and switchblade cool cover of ‘ol Tom Waits Clap Hands that somehow manages to brings something extra to the beat pop classic and gives a clue to the kind of musical world the band inhabits. That world of off kilter, surreal twisted musical theatre, that world of kooky soundtrack and swinging jiving soundscape that smog breathes a Jim Jarmusch cinematic barrelhouse clank and grind before switching into a sumptuous swinging panorama of breathtaking musicality and fleshy jive that you can dance to if you could only just be allowed to leave your Covid table!
Honeyfeet are kinda like a musical Punch and Judy, a party in the Star Wars bar, a swirling drinking night out and what Amy Winehouse was delivering when she hit her stride – that way of making all these classic music into a modern whole and of the moment with a post-punk urgency.
It helps that the band are a seamless whole. They joyfully play off each other switching textures and rhythms at will and bringing their unique swing to the proceedings. it also helps that they have the huge voice of Ríoghnach Connolly joining all the dots and adding a lust for life, emotional joyfulness and tears and humanity to the proceedings.
Of course, being one of the first gigs in town after the plague would always make for a joyful occasion but the band bring a whole universe of extra delight that brings the house down. If we are not hearing them blasting out of 6music or regally owning Jolls Holland’s Later within a year then we have been truly robbed.