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Deaf Institute

Saturday 15th October 2011

9.02 a.m. And so it begins, with the ringing of a phone alarm followed by toast, imitation Weetabix, and cups of tea. A look out the window suggests that earlier predictions of another citywide heatwave may not have been too far wide of the mark. Perfect weather for a stroll to Manchester Art Gallery, to catch the first part of Sounds Like A Gallery.

10.34 a.m. We arrive early, as it turns out; Black Jack Barnet won’t be starting until 12. Fortunately, that gives us the chance to enjoy the gallery’s fantastic permanent collection. The problem with living in a city for any number of years – and knowing that your immediate future lies within its boundaries – is that it’s easy to become complacent about the likes of the Manchester Art Gallery. A “we should drop in some time” mentality takes over, whereby you intend to visit but never get around to it. We’re delighted to have been prompted to do so, and make a note to come visit the Ford Madox Brown exhibition as soon as our pockets are a little heavier. We’d fully recommend you pay the place a visit, too.

12.36 p.m. Black Jack Barnet (pictured above, alongside William Etty’s The Sirens and Ulysses) turns out to be great: playing to a broad audience of kids and older folk, he uses “poetic license” to tell the stories behind six of the gallery’s most bold and impressive paintings. From song to song he shifts style dramatically, so that one moment he’s delivering gospel folk that calls to mind Seasick Steve, and the next he’s mining Jam On Bread twee indie territory, touring the first floor and picking up new followers at every stop. He mostly plays it for laughs and gets them, with the children in attendance every bit as delighted as the adults.

1.12 p.m. We recharge our batteries with a plate of fish and chips in a Norther Quarter caff, with a soundtrack of “Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa” and “These Boots Are Made For Walking.” Next stop, the Manchester Craft and Design Centre…

1.45 p.m. …another place it is easy to forget about, but which deserves plenty more attention than it receives. Partly because the building is beautiful – with a high glass ceiling that lets the light stream into the artisan-filled shopping piazza bellow – and partly because it houses a handful of the city’s most talented artists and craftivists.

2.15 p.m. Within the venue, a makeshift stage has been set up to play host to a couple of hours of world music. First up is Jali Njonkoling Kuyateh, who you might have seen playing his African harp around Piccadilly Gardens. It really is a remarkable instrument; it doesn’t look like much, but the beautiful sound it emits is somewhere between a harp and guitar, and Jail’s voice sounds melodious and delightfully archaic at the same time.

2.41 p.m. The live performances are interspersed with sets from DJ Mayeve and a performance from San’at Mahmudova. We spend a pleasant hour exploring the centre and snacking on chocolate cake at the popular onsite cafe…

3.12 p.m. …after which we spend some time browsing the small jewellery boutiques. We’re interrupted by the first notes of singer/songwriter Luciano Gerber’s 20 minute set. The sounds of rich, nostalgic Brazillian folk reverberate around the bright airy space, which really does lend itself to live music.

3.40 p.m. EthniCITY concludes with an emotionally charged Flamenco set from Calaita (above), that combines powerful lyrics with Catalonian melodies, and underpinned by staccato percussion. It’s always nice to have your eyes opened to different cultures.

4:30 p.m. We retire to the nearby Cord for a couple of pints and reflect on what we’ve seen so far, then eventually head over to the Deaf Institute, grabbing a bite to eat along the way.

7.56 p.m. As we arrive at the Deaf Institute, we’re handed envelopes that contain 3D glasses. A nice touch that helps create the feeling that we’re going to see something special.

8.47 p.m. Support band Gladeyes quickly ensure that said feeling is justified. Indie rock that has its toes more in the rock ‘n’ roll pool than the indie pool, they absolutely command the stage, and deliver a killer performance that the audience clearly love. We hurry to pick up a free copy of their CD, the existence of which they mention between practically every song.

9.34 p.m. As Denis Jones and his musical companion take to the stage, the crowd roar their appreciation. As he begins his set, the sound from the bass and amps are so strong we can literally “feel” the waves of music being created on stage.

The songs are built up in layers; Jones pushes chords and melodies from his guitar through various electrical gizmos creating various effects. Samplers distort his vocals and add an electronic/techno feel to music that started out with distinctly country influences.

And the distorting glasses, which allow the wearer to view the world in a distinctly glitzy haze, seem appropriate now that he’s in full swing. The visuals displayed behind him show sound scapes in primary colours, and against this background Jones casts a dramatic silhouette.

11.12 p.m. The sounds of Denis Jones are still reverberating around our head as we walk home, trying to put the effect into words. We decide that his music lies somewhere between folk, country, psych, and IDM, although the only word that does the set justice is “stunning.” We retire exhausted, but excited about what Sunday has in store for us.

Part two of a four part series in conjunction with All Points North, providing coverage of Manchester Weekender and other regional festivals.

Tuesday 4th October to Saturday 8th October

Equus at Oldham Coliseum Theatre

There’s a buzz building around the Oldham Coliseum Theatre at the moment, with several of its most recent plays earning a fair bit of critical acclaim. Equus tells the story of a seventeen-year-old boy who blinds six horses in a small town near London, and the psychiatrist who attempts to discover why. A powerful and emotive piece that is well worth venturing out of the city for.

The Golden Dragon at the Royal Exchange Theatre

Huge in Germany and now making waves on our shores, the Golden Dragon tells the story of life in a typical Asian restaurant. Hilarious and thoughtful in equal measures, the simple premise soon gives way to deeper questions concerning gender, age, and species.

Wednesday 5th October

Dead Canaries at the Gaslamp

A brand new night featuring live music and DJs at one of Manchester’s most talked about venues? Sounds good to us, and even more so when you take into account that the captivating Paddy Steer and the fantastic Bell Peppers will be helping launch it.

Thursday 6th October and Friday 7th October

Crystal Kisses at the Contact Theatre

Challenging and brave, Crystal Kisses tackles the issues surrounding child sexual exploitation in a play that is intended to entertain whilst raising awareness. Developed in conjunction with several charitable organisations and government institutions, Crystal Kisses is the type of creative endeavour that can help give a voice to the voiceless, and deserves your support.

Friday 7th October

Art Brut at the Ruby Lounge

However you feel about Art Brut on record, it’s worth noting that the full effect can only be experienced live. All sound and fury, their tales of first loves and losers and various bugbears truly come to life. They’re playing as part of Lost & Found’s fourth birthday party, so get down early and enjoy the celebrations.

Saturday 8th October

The Halle Classical Extravaganza at the Bridgewater Hall

As the new season at the Bridgewater Hall gets into full swing, what better way to celebrate than by checking in on The Halle? Playing choice cuts from Verdi, Beethoven, and Stravinsky (among others), this peerless orchestra is always great value for money. The perfect way to class up a Saturday evening. 

Sunday 9th October

Ghostpoet at the Deaf Institute

An original new voice for our post-whatever generation, Ghostpoet combines the requisite mad skills with genuinely interesting, affecting tales of modern life. After some choice support slots and a Mercury nomination, he’s currently embarking upon his first headline tour, complete with a full band. At this point, you may have to put a bit of work in to find a ticket, but you’ll be oh so glad you did.

Monday 5th September

Knitting In The Snug at the Kings Arms

Knitting/sewing/stitching may sit in that uncomfortable middle ground between kitsch and cool, but we’ve typically found that people who try it really, really enjoy it. So why not give it a go in the comfort of the Kings Arms, one of the shining lights of Salford’s pub scene.

Tuesday 6th September

Beirut at Manchester Academy 1

That Zach Condon has made himself huge off the back of music that combines Balkan folk with just a hint of Western pop would be surprising were it not for the fact that he’s a remarkably talented individual. We saw him play Club Academy way back when, but he’s long since outgrown that venue, and is more than capable of captivating the cavernous Academy 1.

Wednesday 7th September to Sunday 11th September

Edward II at the Royal Exchange Theatre

The work of Christopher Marlowe was enough of an influence on William Shakespeare that, since the 17th century, certain “scholars” have argued that Marlowe was the true author of Shakespeare’s works. Such ludicrous frivolities tend to overshadow the fact that Marlowe was a fine author in his own right, responsible for some truly fantastic plays, of which Edward II is one of the best. Telling the story of the titular king’s reign, this is not one to be missed.

Wednesday 7th September

Arty Farty Film Party: Dr. Strangelove at An Outlet

One of the funniest films you could ever hope to see, thanks to humanity’s infinite capacity for waging war Dr. Strangelove remains as relevant as ever. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re in for a treat: this is laugh a minute cinema at its finest.

The Rapture at Club Academy

Much loved for a brief window back in 2003, on record The Rapture never set our world alight, but the band are a different beast live, with audiences tending to lose themselves in “House of Jealous Lovers” and the like. Back with new album In The Grace Of Your Love, here’s hoping they’ve lost none of their onstage edge: Club Academy should prove to be the perfect venue for them.

Thursday 8th September

Elliott Eastwick’s World Famous Pub Quiz at the Black Dog Ballroom

Pub quizzes may be ten a penny, but it’s always worth escaping from the comfort zone of your regular establishment and discovering what questions unfamiliar quizmasters have to throw at you. The Black Dog Ballroom run their music- and film-based quiz every Thursday, and Elliott Eastwick has a reputation as a particularly charismatic host. And who doesn’t enjoy the glory of taking home prizes plucked from the city’s pound shops?

King Creosote & Jon Hopkins at the Deaf Institute

One of the most enchanting albums released all year, Diamond Mine combines the songs of the legendary King Creosote with the field recordings and ambient soundscapes of Jon Hopkins. On record, the effect is absolutely beautiful; it’ll be interesting to see how well it translates to the live arena. Support comes from the wonderful Francois & The Atlas Mountains.

Friday 9th September to Saturday 10th September

Heresy N Heelz at Sound Control

Burlesque seems to be growing in popularity in Manchester – with several active troupes and a handful of locations offering classes – which means that the timing of this two-day event couldn’t be better. Heresy N Heelz, one of the UK’s premier purveyors and promoters of the artform, will be hosting an evening of burlesque and twisted cabaret on the Friday night, featuring live performances and the like; on the Saturday, more than 20 traders will be selling their wares, with clothing and accessories covering everything from vintage and fetish. Not to be missed!

Sunday 11th September

Taxi Driver at the Cornerhouse

Whilst a matinee showing of Taxi Driver might not be the best start to a day for those nursing a hangover, for everyone else it represents a rare opportunity to see one of the greatest films of all time on the big screen. Robert De Niro provides a tour de force as Travis Bickle, the disaffected cabbie who has failed to readjust to everyday life after returning from Vietnam.

Monday 29th August

The Centre Cannot Hold: ZIne Launch Party at the Deaf Institute

Several talented individuals have worked hard to ensure that Manchester is a hotbed of zine-based activity, with a number of wonderful titles available. This particular event launches The Centre Cannot Hold, a collection of some of this year’s best writing from the city’s pop critics.

Tuesday 30th August to Thursday 1st September

Last Year In Marienbad at the Cornerhouse

Playing at the Cornerhouse for a limited period – 50 years after it premiered at the Venice Film Festival, winning the Golden Lion in the process – Last Year in Marienbad is an arthouse cinema classic. A man named X insists to a woman named A that they met one year earlier, and is convinced that she is waiting for him; she begs to differ.

Tuesday 30th August

Comet Gain at the Roadhouse

In Howl of the Lonely Crowd Comet Gain have released one of this year’s best albums, deservedly raising their profile in the process. That support comes from local favourites Help Stamp Out Loneliness and the ABC Club is the sort of added bonus that means we cannot wait for this gig.

Wednesday 31st August

Gordon Gano & The Ryans at the Ruby Lounge

Gordon Gano hasn’t exactly been prolific since the Violent Femmes came to an end, but his legacy with said band marks him out as one of the most important figures of the post-punk landscape. Support comes from Manchester power pop outfit the Sun Electric Band.

Friday 2nd September

Poets Get Mashed at An Outlet

A poetry-centric open mic night where anyone is welcome to read out their own work and a poem written by somebody else. An important part of Manchester’s thriving poetry scene, this is an opportunity to see as-yet unheralded writers in their natural environment.

Iceage at Islington Mill

Danish punks evoking the spirit of ’76, Iceage make the sort of rawkus noise that is always best observed in a live venue: expect literal blood, sweat, and tears. Support comes from Eagulls, whose brand of post-hardcore is also generating a fair amount of buzz.

Sunday 4th September

Dark Matters at Whitworth Art Gallery

An exploration of the impact new inventions have had on visual culture, the Dark Matters exhibition opens at the Whitworth on Sunday. New commissions focusing on darkness and shadows, populated by spirits, spectres, and phantoms, will be displayed alongside works by Francis Bacon and JMW Turner.

Whilst we’re probably not the only ones hoping for a quieter, more uneventful seven days, that doesn’t mean we won’t want to be out and about. This week’s highlights include a diverse range of free events, exhibitions, and film screenings, and Port Street Beer House celebrating the work of Manchester’s own Marble Brewery.

Monday 15th August to Sunday 21st August

Ernest Rutherford: Father of Nuclear Physics at the Museum of Science and Industry

Manchester has a long and storied history of being at the forefront of scientific and technological revolutions. This free entry exhibition celebrates Ernest Rutherford, whose work established the nuclear structure of the atom and the nature of radioactive decay, earning him global recognition in the process.

Monday 15th August to Saturday 20th August

Leo Fitzmaurice: Post Match at the Cube Gallery

With the football season now well and truly underway, this free entry exhibition is particularly timely. Over the course of ten years, Fitzmaurice has crafted around 800 miniature football kits using only discarded cigarette packets; the result is a vibrant, thought-provoking journey through the histories of two industries with particularly tarnished images.

Tuesday 16th August to Sunday 21st August

Manchester Week at Port Street Beer House

Port Street’s Manchester Week was planned in advance of last week, but given the events which unfolded, the timing of it couldn’t be much better. It’s largely being held as a tribute to Colin Stronge, the brewery production manager at the superlative Marble Brewery, with several other fantastic local brewers also represented.

Wednesday 17th August

Eyebrow Cinema at An Outlet

The free entry world and independent film club is screening Precious on Wednesday, and if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s well worth checking out; it’s not quite as strong as some critics made it out to be, but it’s still a compelling piece of cinema.

Friday 20th August to Sunday 22nd August

Platform 4 Festival at Piccadilly Gardens, St Ann’s Square, and Castlefield Arena

A free event that spans across the city, incorporating aerial and circus shows, music, dance, and street theatre, Platform 4 Festival sounds both ambitious and unique. The acrobatics of the Spanish Atempo Circus at Castlefield Arena should be a particular highlight.

Friday 20th August

Hey! After Hours at Whitworth Art Gallery

Conceived as a response to current Whitworth Art Gallery exhibition Projections: Works From The Artangel Collection, Hey! After Hours promises an evening of highly cultured music, including the Prism Quartet performing Philip Glass, and a set from Liz Green ahead of the long-awaited release of her debut album.

Saturday 21st August to Sunday 22nd August

A Game of Consequence at Piccadilly Gardens

The Contact Young Actors Company bring an old-fasjoined medicine show to Piccadilly Gardens free of charge; however, as the name of the performance suggests, every choice has its consequence. It’s directed by Cheryl Martin, who has already made a number of lauded contributions to the Manchester theatre scene.

Saturday 21st August

Chad VanGaalen at the Deaf Institute

Diaper Island is one of the finest albums released this year, a definite leap forward from a guy who has been making great music under the radar for what seems like forever. The fact that support comes from New Hips (three-quarters of the sadly missed Deaf to Van Gogh’s Ear) is the sort of added bonus that means this is one we’re very much looking forward to.

From sci-fi to gay cinema to a number of interesting art exhibitions, the Manchester cultural calendar is certainly diverse this week. The triple header of Daniel Johnston-themed events over Thursday and Friday are worth checking out, and we also have high hopes that the Cornerhouse screening of Break My Fall will be an introduction to an exciting new cinematic talent.

Monday 8th August to Saturday 13th August

Beyond Their Shells at Contact Theatre

Eggs Collective are a group of Manchester-based female performance artists working in partnership with Contact Theatre to produce challenging, original work. In this Eggshibition (their pun, not ours), Roshana Rubin-Mayhew photographs the individuals behind the collective, in a series of portraits that explore the concept of self-identity.

Zion Young Creators Exhibition at Zion Arts Centre

The Zion Arts Centre is one of the best things about Hulme. It plays host to a variety of interesting events, ranging from dance classes to animation workshops, and much more besides. Zion’s own Young Curators have developed an exhibition which reflects the artistic perspectives of young people; any institution encouraging today’s youth to engage with art should be applauded.

Monday 8th August

Washed Out at the Deaf Institute

Currently one of THE big things in music, don’t let the hype deter you too much (of course, don’t buy into it too much either). The band have followed a strong EP with a debut album that’s a decent soundtrack to this washed out summer. It should be interesting to find out how their music translates to a live stage.

Tuesday 9th August

Break My Fall at the Cornerhouse

POUT on Tour is being launched to coincide with Manchester Pride 2011, with Break My Fall opening proceedings. The debut film from emerging talent Kanchi Wichmann tells the story of two lesbians, Liza and Sally, whose hedonistic lifestyle quickly starts to get away from them. Followed by a post-screening Q&A session.

Wednesday 10th August

Givers at the Night & Day

Having garnered a bit of attention from Pitchfork and the like, Givers are now touring their debut album, In Light. Catchy in a post-Vampire Weekend sort of way, should be a lot of fun live.

Thursday 11th August to Friday 12th August

OpenMind Festival at An Outlet

An ambitious celebration of independent artists, OpenMind Festival will feature poetry readings, live music, comedy, and most intriguingly, a screening of their sci-fi theatre piece Infinite Perspectives

Thursday 11th August

Daniel Johnston: Story of an Artist at Incognito Gallery

This preview evening launches Manchester’s first ever Daniel Johnston art exhibition; it also features a performance by the man himself, and an opportunity to purchase his work. We’re unbelievably excited about this.

Some Things Last a Long Time: A Tribute to Daniel Johnston at the Night & Day

After Incognito Gallery kicks out at eight, the Night & Day is keeping the Daniel Johnston fires burning, with a host of Manchester bands covering songs from the great man’s extensive back catalogue. With new Onward, Manchester faves Walton Hesse part of the bill, it may well be the perfect prelude to Friday night…

Friday 12th August

Daniel Johnston at Sound Control

…when Daniel Johnston will be performing his own songs. Initially scheduled to take place at Manchester Cathedral, the change of venue shouldn’t derail the evening too much; fans of his music will be captivated by his very presence on stage, before he even plays a note.

Saturday 13th August

Shonen Knife at the Deaf Institute

The legendary all-female Japanese pop punk trio have been kicking around for a staggering , and yet still have more creativity in their little fingers than the vast majority of their peers.

You could be forgiven for mistaking Manchester for a ghost town in August; the promise of guaranteed sun or a week of music a la wellies proves too much of a lure for some. But if you’re still around, there’s plenty to keep you entertained in our fair city.

Here are a few of this week’s highlights:

Monday 1st August to Saturday 6th August

As You Like It at the Royal Exchange Theatre

The Royal Exchange Theatre has a strong track record of putting on excellent Shakespeare adaptations, and As You Like It is one of the bard’s superior comedies. This is the last week of its run, so catch it now or miss out forever. Features the immortal “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players” monologue.

Tuesday 2nd August

Halle Youth Orchestra and Youth Choir at the Royal Northern College of Music

Halle’s worldwide reputation for excellence is something Manchester can take a great deal of pride in, and any event affiliated with the famous orchestra is worth at least considering when you’re plotting out your week. They’re performing a selection of the works they played during a recent tour of Cornwall.

Wednesday 3rd August

Meet The Brewer with Flying Dog at Port Street Beer House

The second ever Port Street Meet The Brewer event will be well worth attending if the first one is anything to go by: expect quality beers, excellent pub food, interesting conversation, and an altogether memorable evening.

Stitched Up Swap Shop at Creative Corner Cafe

Of course, if fashion ranks higher on your list of priorities than beer, and if you’re a fan of the upcycling trend, then you’ll possibly be more at home here. Recently new to Whalley Range, the Creative Corner Cafe is making an admirable attempt to establish an art scene in a suburb which isn’t exactly known for its artistic endeavours.

Friday 5th August

An Evening with MCR Scenewipe at Fuel Cafe Bar

MCR Scenewipe has grown impressively in a short space of time, and should be particularly lauded for its free events at Fuel. Their latest features a trio of artists – Walton Hesse (an Americana Sebadoh), T.G. Elias (M. Ward-esque Americana, complete with harmonica), and Jo Rose (earnest Americana) – who are all worth an evening of your time.

Saturday 6th August

Speed Date UK Premiere at Sound Control

Here at Onward, Manchester we keep our eyes open not just for the best events, but for the most interesting too. So while the trio of bands that are playing this night are not exactly to our tastes, how often do you get to attend a premiere in Manchester? A chance to experience the work of young filmmakers before they (potentially) become huge.

Sunday 7th August

Scrabble Club at the Deaf Institute

Is the very existence of a Scrabble club proof (if any were needed) that this whole twee trend has gone too far? Almost certainly. Nonetheless, it sounds like a perfectly pleasant way to wile away the Sunday hours. Later on, the same venue is hosting an open mic night; as always, approach with caution.

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