SPHERE joined around 50 scenesters, industry types, friends and family to attend the launch party for Beggar Joe’s debut LP in Manchester. The latest of the city’s musical sons dubbed as ‘the next big thing’, it was an event of high expectations – with few disappointments.
After a friendly cocktail reception attendees ascended in the ‘great glass elevator’ to the top floor of URBIS, a huge glass and steel structure in Manchester’s Cathedral Gardens housing gallery space dedicated to urban life and modernity. With the white angular internal walls still showing highlights from the Best of Manchester art awards you could be forgiven or thinking this was the preview of some concept EP by the latest art-rockers. Seconds into their set, the one-time buskers’ heartfelt, honest, accessible and un-pretentious sound confirms that this is not the case.
For those unfamiliar with the band, put simply they cross a bridge somewhere between street folk, gritty blues and loose, percussive indie. On stage, it’s harder to define.
Stand out tracks from their self-titled debut, released October 5, such as ‘Puppet King‘, ‘Zabba‘ and ‘No More Revelations‘ were all present, correct and given the live working that has come to be expected of the quintet. The night drew to a close with a fantastic, percussion heavy and ‘extended for dancing’ version of ‘Time Is Now‘, driving a swing-infused groove through the intimate room, all under the abstract and perfectly fitting images of Hazel Vint’s band artwork.
Following the cries for an encore the boys returned to polish things off with possibly their greatest live track, ‘Sleeping City‘. All Deep South basslines and Mississippi guitars, its stepping rhythm leads to a frantic runaway train crescendo-outro, by which time everyone’s feet were moving along with the beat.
So often is it for a hyped band to come and go that it’s almost a surprise when they suggest longevity. Beggar Joe should be one of those surprises. No gimmicks, no hard sell – just straight up talent and good bar room music.
For more information visit the official MySpace.
Watch the band play live in Manchester below: