LIVE: The Night & Day 27th Birthday Party
WORDS BY ABI MCREADY PHOTO BY ALVARO GARDETA
Manchester has one of the most exciting, thriving and unique live music scenes in the UK, and has done for many years. At the heart of this scene is the Northern Quarter, bursting with independent music venues where not a night goes by without some of the newest and most exciting up and coming bands taking to their stages to perform their hearts out for eager crowds at the forefront of the scene. And standing proudly at the beating heart of Manchester’s iconic music scene is Night & Day Café, celebrating its 27th birthday. While bars open and close and open again all around it and phases come and inevitably pass, it has steadfastly remained an integral part of Manchester night life, lending its stage to old names and brand new bands alike, giving everybody an equal chance to be a part of the culture that surrounds it. And on Friday night, this institution celebrated its 27th birthday in the only way it possibly could; with an absolutely stellar line-up, and a big fat party to follow.
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Perhaps the most colourful –no, the only colourful band to join in the party are Fruit Tones. Their unique sound spans decades and genres but is, above all, a hell of a lot of fun to watch. At its centre is distorted garage rock with catchy hooks and scuzzy vocals with a dash of classic rock n roll thrown in for good measure. Despite their sound being rough around the edges, they’re almost impossibly well-rehearsed and difficult not to dance to. They don’t take themselves too seriously and the fun they’re clearly having on stage flows out into the audience and quickly catches on as the venue fills up.
Next on are Mister Strange who, in an ode to the tight-knit community that is Manchester’s music scene, share a drummer with Fruit Tones, whose arms surely must be getting tired by now. They return to the scene of their first ever gig to celebrate the anniversary of its birth. Though their psych-rock sound is undeniably their own, they’re comparable to titans King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, if they were to undergo a sudden dark makeover. Each song feels relentless and dark and intense and captivating and is the perfect transition from the fun and funky Fruit Tones to the gloomy and foreboding headliner.
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Baba Naga’s set is the highly anticipated end to the night and it’s immediately easy to see why. Everything about them draws you in and captivates your attention, from the intensity of the drums to the rhythmic riffs and effortlessly astounding guitar solos. One song blends almost seamlessly into the next in an ethereal and dreamlike way that may have become unsettling and possibly even boring if each one hadn’t been a journey into the unknown that was too promising not to pay attention to. Murky, trippy visuals swirl in the background throughout the set and compliment the gloom and complexity of the sound perfectly. Their music and its message transcends comprehension at times and is both inexplicably rooted in the very matter of the universe and frustratingly separate from it all at once. It’s the answer to a question which lies just out of reach.
And through it all there lingers a biter sweetness, as Manchester still remembers the life and mourns the loss of Night and Day’s founder Jan Oldenburg. This celebration, and so much more of what happens in the Northern Quarter on a daily basis, would never have been possible if it hadn’t been for the heart and soul that he poured into making the venue and its surrounding area what it is today. His is a legacy that won’t be forgotten any time soon.