Manchester Black Dog Ballroom
31st March 2013
John Mackie has been around the Manchester music scene for what seems like forever. He’s played a solo artist, he’s sung with next-big-things-that-never-happened The Broadcast and The Vortex and he’s been out on the road with Bonehead. Yet you never shake the feeling with John that he’s at his best when it’s just him and his guitar.
Today, he’s headlining a regular acoustic event put on by Forever Manchester in the intimate front/back room of the Black Dog Ballroom in Manchester, and he’s showcasing songs from his soon-to-be-recorded album. As it’s Easter Sunday and noone’s at work, it’s an alcohol-enhanced chatty crowd by the time John takes to the stage around six, but he soon silences the majority of them with just an acoustic guitar and a couple of strategically used effects pedals.
John’s voice has always had that instantly familiar warm edge to it that sometimes got lost in the noise created by the bands he was in. On his own, it takes centre stage, and rather than sounding like one of those rent-a-singersongwriters that the music industry fawns over, his personality is stamped all through the seven songs he played, from his ode to his brother Rainbow Road and Blue Eyes, which he dedicates to everyone with blue eyes. His mix of natural Glaswegian charm combined with years of living in Manchester means he holds the audience easily in his thrall.
His real showstopping song though is Holy Water, which stops any chatterers at the back, and has everyone clapping and stamping their feet along, no mean feat given the room he’s in. He uses a very effective vocal loop to build the song. It’s his most radio-friendly song and one that will hopefully get him the wider audience he deserves. He closes with a gorgeous ballad Silver Fish, which shows a different more gentle side of his repetoire.
Hopefully, after a series of false starts and band experiments that didn’t quite work, we’ll see the real John Mackie when this record comes out. As the compere quite rightly points out, he’s already a Manchester music legend in his own under the radar way. It’s time the rest of the city and the world in general got to hear him.
John played :
Lost And Found
All words by David Brown. You can see more of David’s work on Louder Than War here