LIVE REVIEW: Bare Knuckle Parade, Whiskey Jar Manchester, 26th April

After interviewing the band Sean saw them play. 'Their Celtic influences and style were very much to the fore'

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Bare Knuckle Parade in performance BUT not the gig reviewed

And so to the music for the night. First of all I have to give a big shout out to The Whiskey Jar for the quality of their open-mic. night. There was a string of unbelievably good amateur performers extolling a huge variety of styles to an incredibly high standard that kept the audience engaged, enraptured and excited throughout the night. If you are a performer looking for a good night to show your abilities at, where you’ll meet musicians that will inspire and stretch you to improve yourself, then this is the one for you. Equally, if you’re bored of your local pub’s string of half-assed, deluded wannabees, and want some quality from your open-mic. night, then get down to this one on a Tuesday evening and you’re in for a treat.

Bare Knuckle Parade didn’t disappoint either and gave a spirited and animated set of about six songs that slotted in well to the oeuvre of the evening. Unlike the previous performances of theirs that I’ve seen online, this one was much more subdued, understated and nuanced and somewhat the better for it, in my opinion. I think they may have adopted their style to suit the smaller stage, closely related to the audience, in a small bar setting, rather than the bigger gigs they’ve been doing of late. Or, it may just have been an aspect of the way they’re developing and growing as a band, or just an experimental one-off, who knows? The set was much more acoustically based and quieter than their normal high-energy, raucous affairs. Perhaps the absence of the enthusiastic Bath crowd contributed to the quieter approach, but they were well received by the Mancunians present and gave a very good account of themselves.

The highlight of the set was ‘Diamond Eyes’, their single and well-known crowd-pleaser, a very strong melodic song. Their vocal and instrumental harmonisation was very evident, very pleasing and suited to the ambience of where they were playing. Their Celtic influences and style were very much to the fore, and they used the small space available in which they had to play, extremely well, getting intimate and close-up with the audience, bringing the songs and the melody into their laps. Their frontman Jamie is an accomplished showman and performer, and they came across as a band that are thoroughly enjoying plying their trade, honing their skills, garnering audience support and living the life of an up-and-coming band on-the-road.

There were subdued and subtle moments within the set, atmospheric instrumental interludes and the strength and melodic force of their songs came through throughout. Despite the fact that they play a genre of music that’s not personally my cup of tea, I enjoyed their performance and can see that they will have a wide appeal to a young crowd raised on the likes of Mumford and Sons and their ilk. They are a very tight outfit, well-rehearsed, a proper band in that they play for each other as well as for an audience and their songwriting ability, in terms of turning out songs that grab your melodic and vocal attention quickly and thoroughly is beyond doubt. They’re a lovely bunch of lads and I wish them well in their burgeoning career. If they keep developing their songs, styles and stagecraft at the same rate that they have since their inception, there should be interesting and fruitful times ahead for them.