Northern Quarter was already packed as I made my way into the venue. For a Tuesday, and a Tuesday after a Bank Holiday, this is amazing. Jack (of Persian Rug Sale) greeted me virtually at the door, and was clearly somewhat slightly amazed and completely stoked by the turnout. The buzz, the vibe in the room was incredible.
After reviewing Persian Rug Sale’s debut single ‘Left Behind’ I was looking forward to seeing them play. And incidentally seeing, and reviewing releases from, Jack’s previous band Dead Fairy.
Word to the wise, there will be gushing, there will be frankly over the top words, but first to the support bands.
Two Pound – who I know virtually nothing about beyond the fact that given the support they got they must be locally based – opened with two kinda languid blusey songs that were vaguely plaintive. This was good, in fact it was more than good. The thing is that the third song didn’t sound like that at all. My notes say ‘ And then quite what the fuck, it’s this Brel-ish thing – it’s all kind of vaguely Sensational Alex Harvey Band and it is fantastic. All off-kilter with an audience participation wail at the end’.
This threw me completely in a very good way. I think I’d got that they just do stuff they like and the hell with any sort of fixed genre by then, so the next song in a punky riotous way about not having change for homeless people didn’t throw me at all. The fact that it was shorter than the time it took me to write the notes about it, did!
The thing about a band like Two Pound is that while the playing is fantastic, this approach – ‘we’re just going to write songs in any damn style we want to’ – could be taken as somewhat of a novelty, and this left me – with my reviewer head on – somewhat confused. The music fan head just said ‘get a grip Frank, this is a riot of a set, it’s brilliantly played and it makes me smile, do you need anything more’. My music fan head is right.
It’s the second time I’ve caught Halifax’s Calina – the first was as one of the supports to Smokey Brights at The Parish some time back. I was impressed then but they seem to have progressed. It may be that the sound in Northern Quarter was better (and the sound in Northern Quarter is so so good) or that the band are just better, or very probably both.
Seeing a band again gives you the opportunity to really focus in, and my impressions from the first time I saw them were confirmed. They rock, they rock in an alt-rock way big time but their songs have tunes to die for. The dual guitars intertwine in the most wonderful way and the drums and bass are just right. But the thing that makes the songs is the vocals, the vocals are huge people.
In fact everything about them seems bigger, the guitars are rawer and more rocky, the bass is just huge. The songs have that epic anthemic thing going for them.
The other thing is that their set has changed, some songs have been dropped and new songs introduced – notably their single ‘Expectations’, and a song so new it’s the first time they’ve performed it. Their cover of ‘Feeling Good’ is shifted to the first half of their set. This to be honest somewhat confused me, it’s a bloody huge thing, but this becomes clear because they end their set with a cover of Kasabian’s ‘Fire’. The place went wild.
If Calina are playing round your way, do go and see them, I think they could get big.
And now to Persian Rug Sale. I can think of no other way to describe this than to reproduce my notes.
‘Oh bloody fucking hell this is crazy, crazy to the point of Fudge-ness (I shall explain) and this is in the small space of NQ. Jack is possessed, completely possessed. He rants, he jumps, he twists.
And the words, the words are completely fucking fantastic, while the band just roars and the crowd go ape-shit’
And this dear reader is just the opening two songs.
Fudge-ness by the way is a term I have used (mainly to myself, this is the first time I’ve used it in a review) to describe those gigs that are way more than just gigs, that are an experience, a shared experience between the band and the crowd. Where the crowd are up to go for it, and the band say ‘let’s do this thing together, let’s lose our shit’, and they both do right from the start.
Persian Rug Sale do, in a broad sense for each song has very much an individual identity, either punky fast songs or rather slower songs that sound – and I’m not sure that Jack is going to like this but it was hot and hectic in NQ that night and my notes got a little wild – songs that sound like a rawer punky Streets. Jack does this thing, this kinda punky spitting rap.
The songs cover relationships, people who need to take it slow, and the far right, all in Jack’s rather unique way. His words are witty, they are laugh out loud funny, and they can rather moving in a strange way.
The crowd got wilder and wilder, there was stage diving, there were people on other people’s shoulders. And Jack got wilder, he struck dramatic poses, he stretched out into the crowd, and boy did the crowd reach out out to him. At times he seemed somewhat slightly overwhelmed by the crowd’s reactions but Jack is a performer, a totally compelling performer, and he just carried on. The crowd were just fixed on him.
This is something I noticed the first time I ever saw him play with Dead Fairy at an almost empty Parish kicking off Oxjam. I said to myself ‘that guy is going to be huge some day soon’. He played bass then as well as singing, in Persian Rug Sale he’s just doing vocals and if anything as a front-person he’s better, way better.
I really liked Dead Fairy but I love Persian Rug Sale, I love what they do, I love the songs, I love the playing which is just so so so good, I loved the experience of seeing them live. And now, people, is the time to get into them, so you can say ‘oh I’ve been going to see those guys for ages, where have you been’. This is a band who ought to be playing bigger venues, what they do is big enough for that, it’s more than big enough for that. And the more people the wilder it’s going to be. Go see this band people, see them as soon as you can.
All photos on this page © Frank Roper Photography