Designer Magazine All Ages Gig ft El Policia / Little Engine / Kid 4077 / The Sidelines
Bar Amp, Sale - 1.6.07

The concept of All Ages gigs is not a new one. London has them virtually every weekend bringing new bands like Klaxons and Bono Must Die and Manchester's rock fraternity caught on early bringing bands such as The Maple State, Rowley (aka Astro Boy) and Enter Shikari while the indie scene was still flicking over Badly Drawn Boy and Elbow. But the idea of indie all ages gigs in Manchester is unheard of and its why Designer Magazine's first all ages gig in Manchester has received attention from the broadsheets such as The Telegraph & The Independent on Sunday as well as a forthcoming feature in the Observer Music Monthly.

(Pic: The Sidelines)

The Sidelines are Designer Magazine regulars having played with Carlis Star and Shepherds Pi last november at Night & Day and gigs at Bar Amp previously, Taking a few months out to write new material, the bulk of which makes up tonight's set, has obviously done wonders as the band are now starting to find their own sound and are more than the sum of their influences. If previously it was easy to spot a Kooks reference here and an Arctic Monkeys reference there, now each song simply sounds like the Sidelines with everything tighter than before. As before the bands strong points are a unique sense of melody on the piano and it may be this songwriting which serves them well in the long run when the younger fanbase get board of Hadouken and Klaxons-esque noiseniks and starts looking for real songs.

(Pic: Kid 4077)

Today is the debut solo gig from Manchester singer-songwriter Nile Marr (aka Kid 4077) and for someone used to having to two band members on stage with him the pressure doesn't show at all. With influences such as John Martyn, Bob Dylan and Nick Drake his musical influences belie his age but the songs still manage to have a youthful vigour about them. Leaving out his best song "You Gotta Know" due to this being a guitar only show it's the likes of "Bethany Joy" and "Get Me Out" that shine in a mammoth 10 song set. "Video Lullaby" proves that when the song is stripped back from the full band version it still stands up strong and there's time for a Britney Spears cover "Baby One More Time", which is indebted to the Travis version. For a debut it showed great things to come, but at only 15, Kid 4077 is a flexible unit that can play solo or collaborate in the future.

(Pic: Little Engine)

That Little Engine have received the backing of Blowout, the same people that were first to pick up on Fear Of Music puts the band in good stead. The last time Designer Magazine saw Little Engine was in a makeshift venue as part of the Sounds From The Other City festival, the sound system was shit and Callum had had his faced smashed up the night previously while out on the lash. Today is a completely different show which pays witness to one of the best young bands in Manchester at the moment. Sounding unlike any other contemporary band at the moment they hint at classic 50s rock'n'roll filtered through Detroit punk-blues, the band are as they sing in "Baby Boy" - young gifted and black - but not in a tokenistic Bloc Party-esque way. Only a song about Steve Lamacq on crack wreaks of novelty spoils the set, other than that it was damn near perfect

El Policia are only a handful of gigs into their career but they're already been talked about in the same regard as the early days of the Clash and The Manics. Their last gig here at Amp supporting The Boy Majors was a sold out affair but with exams looming for much of their fanbase its a hard-core 100 or so who come to pay witness.

Like Little Engine they don't sound like any other contemporary band but just embody the spirit and attitude of rock'n'roll. If it wasn't for the fact that this was an all ages gig and no alcohol was being served you get the impression they'd be out drinking the combined force of Keith Richards and Amy Winehouse. El Policia strip down everything to the essential so out go any guitar solos, the slow songs are kept to a minimum and although anybody over 30 would disagree the haircuts that are bigger than the Horrors are still essential.

"Stop The Conversation" manages to turn the MASH theme tune "Spectators Of Suicide" into the Pistols "Pretty Vacant", "All In Your Head" is the basics of the blues played a breakneck speed with the amps turned up to 11 and "You Love Me To" is the most  paranoid nihilistic song fuelled by huge ego's ever written, it makes Johnny Rotten look tame.

By 8pm the haircuts have disappeared onto a house party and the all ages gig phenomena has truly arrived in Manchester in style. With the next one booked in for July 27th clear the diary cos it plans to be bigger and better, its that's at all possible

Alex McCann
Photos: Karen McBride

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KID 4077