Star rating - 8/10
My favourite sort of gigs are dark sweaty affairs in the back room of a pub. Call it reliving my youth if you will, but the intimacy and the bond with the performers is something that just cannot be captured in larger venues. Of course the paradox is that the band needs a larger audience to finance their career, so it's a bit of a selfish indulgence on my part I know. And in truth the upstairs room of the Ducie Bridge pub could have been a little fuller for the excellent Dreaming Spires gig on their debut headline tour last night. But I am confident that they will not remain a well kept secret for much longer.
Hailing from Oxford, brothers Robin and Joe Bennett wear their musical influences on their sleeves with pride, as they pay homage to Gram Parsons, The Band, Teenage Fan Club et al. Their excellent debut album Brothers in Brooklyn is full of brilliant pop themes that are both infectious and accomplished, with borrowed lines from their favourite songs along the way. Their lyrics are witty and catchy, and their harmonies a delight - check out Not Every Song From the Sixties Is A Classic; or their new single Just Can't Keep This Feeling In if you don't believe me.
They are deservedly getting lots of air play right now on the likes of 6 Music. And anyone who loves Gram Parsons is a friend of mine, musically speaking. Their cover of The Flying Burrito Brothers' Sin City was a rare joy. Just one thing guys - Manchester is about so much more than Oasis and fights - come back soon and we'll prove it to you...
And a lovely support set from Manchester Americana loving band Walton Hesse was also a toe tapping treat.