Northwest Gig Highlights – September 2013

With bands back in business after a summer spent glugging grog in ditches, and with the return of The Warehouse Project, September brings the big guns in all genres, from Dinosaur Jr. to James Blake – and goddammit if we're gonna ignore Paramore

Preview by Joe Goggins | 02 Sep 2013

If there's a reason to celebrate – rather than mourn – the dying days of summer, it's that the month of September usually sees the inner-city gig calendar getting back to something like normal, with festival season having left July and August looking like a wasteland for live shows. Finally, bands are getting away from the mud and back into the more familiar territory of clubs, theatres and arenas – and this year's billings across the Northwest are particularly strong.

Liverpool sets the tone early, with two killer shows in the space of three days: Dinosaur Jr., who've already comfortably beaten My Bloody Valentine to the title of 'loudest band we've seen this year', play East Village Arts Club on 3 Sep, while Eels appear at the O2 Academy on 5 Sep – their Manchester show back in March was a triumph, with a career-spanning setlist and masterful audience interaction. East Village Arts Club particularly impresses with a superb selection of bookings in the coming months, including the hotly-tipped No Ceremony on 13 Sep.

Over in Manchester, the live scene is in typically rude health – but you might not be, after Fuck Buttons play Gorilla on 9 Sep. With new record Slow Focus matching the acclaim of their earlier efforts, the Bristol duo are on serious form, as their incendiary turn at Glastonbury proved. Expect retina-scorching visuals and brutal noise levels (and support from The Haxan Cloak), and plan accordingly. If you recover in time, 65daysofstatic – a band not averse to foundation-shaking volume themselves – bring their excellent Wild Light to Sound Control on the 23rd. Christmas has definitely come early for local earplug manufacturers.

If you're after something mellower, James Blake plays his biggest Manchester show to date at The Ritz on 20 Sep – expect cuts from one of 2013's strongest album-of-the-year contenders, Retrograde, though only if you can manage to tear yourself away from the Phones4U Arena, recently rebranded in hideous fashion, where Paramore, yes, Paramore, appear in support of their surprisingly excellent self-titled release (the editor of this magazine has definitely not been belting out Still Into You in the shower for the past three months). Speaking of surprises, this is one of the few arena shows these days that doesn't necessitate remortgaging your house to afford a ticket.

The traditional guitar-based side of things is also well catered for this month, with Smith Westerns playing their first Manchester show for far too long when they return to The Deaf Institute on 18 Sep, and cult favourites Art Brut stopping by the same city's Academy 3 on 24 Sep. Anyone wanting to indulge their pop-punk-loving, borderline-emo inner 13-year-old can catch Jimmy Eat World at Academy 1 on Friday the 13th (oo-er), while Liverpudlians would be well-advised not to miss Giant Drag when they hit one of the region's finest venues, The Kazimier, on 14 Sep (they play The Deaf Institute, Manchester, the night before). The title of their latest record, March's Waking Up Is Hard to Do, might provide some explanation as to why it's only their second in eight years, but there's been little sign of lethargy in their recent live performances.

Your best bet for a big-hitting hip-hop show this month is at Manchester's Apollo on 12 Sep; Macklemore & Ryan Lewis crafted one of the genre's most interesting albums for a long time with The Heist, though the intelligence and insight displayed on tracks such as anti-homophobia anthem Same Love and the introspective Starting Over might be lost among a crowd baying for the (admittedly riotously fun) likes of Thrift Shop and Can't Hold Us.

The end of the month also sees The Warehouse Project juggernaut whirl back into life, and the opening night on 27 Sep promises an impressive blend of old and new, with Mark Knight and Swedish House Mafioso Axwell joining still-vital veterans Armand van Helden and Alan Braxe on the line-up – but things officially get underway the following night, with the now-customary 'Welcome to the Warehouse' party. House and techno are the order of the day (or, rather, night), with Seth Troxler and Loco Dice heading up a bill that also includes the new project from Maceo Plex and Danny Daze, Jupiter Jazz, as well as turns from Warehouse old hands like Joy Orbison and The Martinez Brothers – making the trip to Trafford seem an enticing one.

A strong final week sees an unmissable appearance from post-punk legends Wire at Gorilla (26 Sep); their 13th full-length, Change Becomes Us, met with a rapturous reception earlier this year. Those with more esoteric tastes will be delighted by CocoRosie's headlining date at Manchester's Academy 2 on 28 Sep; the 'freak folk' sisters are out in support of their most abstract effort to date, Tales of a Grass Widow. The best, though, has most definitely been saved 'til last; Laura Marling plays Salford's Lowry on 30 Sep, outing tracks from recent masterpiece Once I Was an Eagle as well as choice cuts from years gone by – all of it totally acoustic. Festivals? What festivals?


Live_Transmission: Joy Division Reworked, The Lowry, Salford, 29 Sep, and Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, 30 Sep 

With the Ian Curtis cottage industry always in full flow, you may have thought that when it comes to Joy Division you’d seen it all. Think again. Live_Transmission is a collaborative reworking of the band’s music, but it’s not the kind of collaboration you see every day.

Making up the wildly disparate group of performers are visual artist Matt Watkins, electronic musician Scanner, Ghostpoet bassist John Calvert, and Three Trapped Tigers' drummer Adam Betts and guitarist Matt Calvert. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also the strings, brass, voices and percussion of the Heritage Orchestra, orchestrated by Tom Trapp – and finally, keeping this ragtag bunch in check is conductor Jules Buckley. And Curtis thought he had it tough.

Laura Ducceschi, who came up with initial demented/inspired idea, says of Live_Transmission that, far from being some sort of weird orchestral Joy Division cover band, “it is a project that steps into new terrain whilst paying homage to the punk, poetic, visual and experimental band that was Joy Division.” The show promises to be a fitting and unique tribute to a band who, though much imitated, remain truly sui generis. [Kristian Doyle]