Sunday, 30 September 2018

Autumn Symphonies

Back when I was at school, Harvest Festivals seemed to be about scrounging tins of either baked beans, unwanted and never used vegetables or unidentified meat from disgruntled parents and leaving them at the front of the assembly hall at school so they could be redistributed amongst the elderly in the town.  Quite what they did with their 'gift' of six tins of baked beans, two tins each of salted cabbage in brine and something brown and slushy that hinted that it used to be alive was beyond my imagination, but I remember thinking that if the elderly that received such delights of the year were like my grandad then the poor buggers would be farting enough methane to create a hole in the ozone layer bigger than the USA could manage.

But that was the glorious 1970s, and I've never really been involved in anything 'Harvest Festival' related since.  That was until last weekend when I joined friends to go to Altrincham Harfest - the town's own musical celebration.

I wasn't sure what to expect, and thought that probably much of the music wouldn't be to my taste, but Altrincham has some great bars and there are a couple that serve violet gin, which is definitely to my taste.  So, around noon on Saturday I arrived in the town centre to find a temporary stage already set up near the market and a pretty large crowd enjoying the sunshine and the chaotic and fun folk music that band on the stage , Galleon Blast, were belting out. 

I would have stayed and watched, but sadly I only caught their last song but they did sound superb.  Never mind, it was a perfect excuse to head to a bar, order a violet gin and sit in the autumnal sunshine for an hour or so.  In another part of the market area another smaller stage was set up - the town was certainly doing this with a great effort.

A little while later the sounds of early 1970s jazz funk filled the air - enough to lure me back to main stage where The Haggis Horns were blowing their horns.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - The Haggis Horns, Altrincham Harfest 2018.
They were brilliant - bright, swirling brass jazz notes with a tight funky backbeat that cool New York circa 1972 would have been proud of.

It was soon back to bar and a bit more violet gin on ice before venturing back to the main stage to be confronted with the stunning and utterly fabulous Charlie Cooper.

Top class Memphis blues and soul from a girl that looks like she's stepped from the cover of a high-end fashion magazine (or one of my dirty dreams), and a voice to rouse the dead and summon the angels.  Just lovely and superb.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Charlie Cooper, Altrincham Harfest 2018.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Charlie Cooper, Altrincham Harfest 2018.


Next up was Martin Connor and the Soul Apostles - RnB (in old terms, like actually playing rhythm and blues) with some northern soul thrown in which got the crowd jigging and dancing in the cooling evening.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Martin Connor And The Soul Apostles, Altrincham Harfest 2018.
Last up for the night was Baked a la Ska.  Two of the guys in our group I knew weren't really ska fans, but we decided to sit it out and see if they could keep the momentum going.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Baked A La Ska, Altrincham Harfest 2018.
Fun, lively and eccentric, the crowd certainly thought they were a good final act - oh, apart from one of my friends when the band worked David Bowie's Starman into, er, Ska-man, and he had to leave to go and drown his sorrow (Bowie joke - Sorrow.  No?  Oh, OK...) with a few glasses of whisky at a nearby bar.

We regrouped later on for a couple of drinks...

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Altrincham Harfest 2018.
...before heading to our respective homes though the cool but lovely night.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Altrincham Harfest 2018.
A great night though, and a superb effort from Altrincham and all the people involved in the weekend and making it a huge success.

Midweek, and the music theme continued... though this time slightly different.

I first saw Halestorm back in 2016 and they have remained one of my favourite rock bands - still led by the gorgeous Lzzy Hale.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Halestorm.
When I found out they were returning to Manchester's Apollo theatre, I bought tickets as soon as I could.

It was a massively long queue stretching right around the Apollo that greeted us all on arrival at the venue - and we thought we were early.  No worries - one of our group had special admission tickets, meaning that we could join a much shorter queue and get in first.

We staked our place on the venue's bloody awful sloping floor (guaranteed to give you backache after an hour) and awaited the first act - Rews.

A female duo of guitarist/vocalist and drums, they energetically thrashed their way through a thirty minute set, a bruising punch of early 1970s heavy rock.  They were pretty good.  Sadly, I became more engrossed by the drummer's fabulous heaving breasts as she pounded the skins and the singer's glorious arse in her ultra-tight trousers, rather than actually listening to their songs.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Rews.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Rews


That was probably an unfair assessment - they certainly got a huge roar from the crowd as they left the stage.  It was a glorious arse and fine pair of boobs, though.

Next up were a band that had been recommended to me by one of my gentleman visitors.  Avatar, from Sweden.

They arrived onstage to slightly freaky circus music - perfect for their show, as it turned out.  The lights went up and Avatar has the crowd enthralled from the start.  Get a giant mixer.  Throw in a circus calliope, Metallica, the clown from the Stephen King film 'IT', Freddie Mercury, Marilyn Manson, The Joker from The Dark Knight and you may have an idea of what comes out the other end.



Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Avatar.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Avatar.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Avatar.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Avatar.
They were brilliant.  Sometimes bizarre, sometimes very heavy, but completely compelling and superb.  'Paint Me Red', 'The Eagle Has Landed', 'The King Welcomes You To Avatar Country', 'Smells Like A Freakshow', 'Bloody Angel'... imaginative, original, demented, demonic.  Brilliant.

The lights dimmed, stage equipment was moved around and in a blaze of lights, sound and glory Halestorm thundered into their first song.  Lovely Lzzy certainly looked the part in leather jacket and sexy leather miniskirt, and she still has one of the most powerful voices in rock.  I'd like to think she can bring an apartment block down when she's having an orgasm.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Halestorm.
Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Halestorm.
The band ripped through their back catalogue, and showcased quite a bit of material from their new album.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Halestorm.
The songs thundered along at a frantic pace with little break in-between, only broken up briefly by an acoustic section, for which luscious Lzzy peeled off her leather jacket to reveal a very sexy, tight top and glistening skin... I'd have loved to have licked the sweat from her right then.  Given a choice between her and the two girls from Rews for a long hot night between the sheets I'd choose... fuck it, a foursome all-girl orgy.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - a quiet time for Halestorm.
There was also a fantastic drum solo from Lzzy's 'baby brother' Arejay.  Drum solos are generally a good time at rock gigs to go and get a drink/go to the toilet, but Arejay is without a doubt one of the finest drummers in rock music today so is well worth watching.  And he has BIG drumsticks...

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Halestorm.
They picked up the pace again for that final dash to the finish line, perhaps with one eye on the 11.00pm curfew, just making it with the last song...

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Halestorm.

Dexi Delite Altrincham and Manchester Escort - Halestorm.
...but no time for a well-deserved encore.  A great performance, and a great end to an amazing night.

I have to say, though, that as good as Halestorm were it was Avatar that I looked up and downloaded songs from the next day.  An unforgettable surprise.

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