Blaylock is the main reason that we are dashing in the rain to catch a train on a cold Friday night to get to The Eagle Inn in Salford. Just a stones throw from Blueprint Recording Studios, this is a lovely room with exposed brickwork ideal for bringing the best out of the acoustics. There is a highly regarded line up to watch, so we are looking forward to making a night of it, and there is an air of excitement in the bar before the start.
Ash Mountain are first up, their second song “Sunshine” seems to be a set highlight for some in the audience. The biggest highlight for me was the gorgeous baby daughter of the singer waving at her mum on stage. “Black Gold” keeps the performance flowing and was a pleasant interlude between baby waves. The fact the music / lyrics were on a music stand always grates with me (just ask anyone who has had the misfortune of watching Shaun Ryder with me over the years). If the set is only seven / eight songs long, and you need the lyrics, why not rehearse more before you play? Introductions of the band ends in laughter when the guitarist is given a new name. Ash Mountain are folky, very relaxed and seem to appeal most to the older clientele in the audience. There is nothing wrong with the songs, the delivery or performance, it is just music for the generation that was jilted twenty five years ago and have now all calmed down.
Next Up is Blaylock (John Blaylock playing with a full backing band), and the room is packed. Although to be fair John does say that “this place is about the same size as my bedroom”. The set opens with “Lighthouse” a beautiful piano based ballad with a catchy hook and a big chorus which in itself is worthy of a bigger stage. With the full band accompaniment it lifts this majestic pop song to higher plateau. The set varies between piano and guitar led tracks with John swapping instruments for the second song “Seeds”. A pop number written about recording songs in different studios and hoping that one will grow into a money tree! The band introductions are spot on, and “Just Fly” kicks in, which is pitch perfect with the cracking lyric; “honesty doesn’t know pride”. I can imagine this being recorded with a full orchestra and backing choir. There is a change of tempo for “Monsters and Ghosts” written, we are told, with a “multi millionaire song writer who lives next door to Bruno Mars”. Bouncy, catchy and triumphant. “Can’t Lose Hope” was written for a Hollywood blockbuster (Suicide Squad) and has an instantly hummable melody with catchy vocals which the band seem to really enjoy playing. The backing vocals offer real depth and quality to the songs tonight. The finale is surprisingly a cover of “Heartbeats” by Jose Gonzales which is delivered with well rehearsed aplomb. The set was over too soon and the packed room was left wanting more of Blaylock’s big choruses and melodic hooks. I don’t think it will be long before Blaylock are filling much bigger rooms than this.
Tasked with following Blayers is Indigo Rose who performs solo.
Basic backing tracks and a slowly played guitar somehow detracts from the gorgeous vocals. “We Are In Orbit” is sang to the 15 of us like she is the headlining act on the Pyramid Stage. The music is not my cup of tea, but the other fourteen here loved it. We learn her claim to fame is that the final song “Shiver” was played on Radio 6 Music at 2 in the morning, she doesn’t know what it is about and I’m not sure that I care. I overhear a bloke say she is a 21st Century Laura Marling. Nope, that’s not right, but Indigo Rose’s music is very pleasant, Laura Marling could be an easy comparable starting reference point though. Indigo Rose has a beautiful voice. A full band would help push on her live set to the next level.
The headline act Dela Lupa have been longlisted for an appearance at this years Glastonbury festival and have travelled a long way to play. Bursting with five vocalists, two sparkling butterfly dresses and a collective positive mental attitude they take to the stage. They ask “are we dreaming or are we a mess?” in “Genius”, well it feels like we are dreaming at times and a couple in the crowd are very messy as we are dazzled by the butterfly dresses and enchanted by the lead vocals. Fans of Florence and the Machine will be will advised to stop by and catch their set if they do get to play Glastonbury this Summer.
The run to catch the train was well worth it, and the Joseph Holts pints were kind on the wallet!