Manchester Music vs Norwich Music

Coming to the end of my first year at music uni has made me look back over the year and think about all the differences between my home city of Norwich and now my second home of Manchester. Of course there are cultural, historical and dialect differences but seeing as this is a music blog, I am going to focus and compare the Manchester music scene to the Norwich music scene.

As I said previously in my blog ‘Music in Manchester’, there are very obvious differences you notice when coming to Manchester, such as the whole cities obsession with Oasis, The Smiths and The Stone Roses. Nearly everyone here loves either one or all of these bands and honestly it’s pretty weird to experience!
Norwich doesn’t have a defining band like Oasis, it’s mainly filled with people who like all different kinds of music. That’s one thing I love about music in Norwich; you don’t feel pressured to like one particular genre/artist/band. All different kinds of bands come to Norwich, but the city isn’t really defined by one particular band or genre.

For example, from going to a music college and being friends with mainly metal-heads, I experienced that Norwich had a thriving underground heavy metal scene. Pubs like the B2 and Brickmakers and the Owl Sanctuary regularly put on gigs for local metal bands, in order to give aspiring musicians of metal- a genre which has lost some of its’ popularity in recent years- the promotion and foot on the ladder that they need.
Of course, Norwich doesn’t have nearly as many venues as Manchester and lacks a big venue like MEN Arena, the Etihad Stadium or Victoria Warehouse. The biggest venue Norwich has is the UEA, with a capacity of only 1500. So, this means that more well known bands and artists are less likely to tour to little ol’ Naar’ich. When I was younger I had to travel to Nottingham to see bands, such as My Chemical Romance, Thirty Seconds To Mars and Blink 182. Now, living in Manchester, I only need to walk to the other side of the city or down the road to see bands like these. In December, I’m lucky enough to be seeing Marilyn Manson. An artist whose music I don’t primarily listen to as much as I used to, but one who I would never pass up the opportunity to see.

Norwich also has other genres intertwined within it, such as drum and bass, folk/acoustic acts and mainstream rock. The UEA and Waterfront are venues which both regularly hold club nights that play everything from R ‘n’ B to pop punk, from underground dance to nostalgic ’emo’. However, whilst Norwich has all this going on, it unfortunately fails to stand out as a musical city. The UEA doesn’t even run a music degree.

Now, compare this to Manchester, and whilst it has the huge stereotype of being an indie music central, it is looked upon as a musically rich city. Bands actually come here, their tour manager is able to look at the city and conclude that people will attend the concert, and ALL KINDS of musicians come here because of the range of venues. Manchester Academy- just down Oxford Road- has 3 venues within it. There are 2 O2 sites (Apollo and Ritz), smaller venues for lesser known artists or uni bands such as Gorilla, Band On The Wall and Sound Control as well as the larger venues I mentioned earlier. Musicians from all over the world come and play in Manchester.

However, I do feel that some aspiring musicians/bands who come out of the uni’s and colleges here, do fall into the stereotypical indie-wannabe Arctic Monkey’s/Oasis/The Smiths, which isn’t a good sign for the cities new music scene. Manchester is a vibrant, varied city and shouldn’t be stuck on repeat, churning out indie band after indie band. What I’ve noticed whilst living here, and of course experiencing Manchester’s music scene, is that there needs to be different genres that are prevalent in Manchester. I feel that the city could really experience its dance/EDM scene more, rather than just confining it to Victoria Warehouse. It would be nice to regularly attend raves that you don’t have to fork out £40/£50 for!
Event organisers would be surprised by how many people would attend dance nights, and how many DJ’s and Producers they would be able to hire. The uni I attend has a Music Production course but currently, it’s difficult for them to spread their name further than Soundcloud, due to the lack of dance venues Manchester has. I can say definitely that having EDM venues would make this city even more attractive than it already is and would help shift the indie stereotype it’s becoming stuck with.

So that’s my comparison between Norwich and Manchester’s music scenes. Both have their faults, but I love them equally. I think if they merged together though then they would have the right balance. It’s strange to experience a city which has a strong music scene, it’s just getting used to a genre which I don’t listen to, but coming to Manchester meant I met my boyfriend, who introduced me to the amazing world of dance music and expanded my music tastes even further, which I am very grateful for.

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Live Review: La Mode (+Ballamona and Maddy Storm)

The Night and Day cafe in Manchester is one of those hidden gems nestled in Northern Quarter, and the last place you expect to be packed out on a Tuesday night for a gig.

GENERATION MCR– an event put on by BIMM students, for BIMM students and reviewed by BIMM students.

First up are Ballamona, who seem nervous- expected given the huge crowd- and arrive up onstage heads down, slouching behind their guitars. They are very much reminiscent of early Foo Fighters and soaked with Indie that if you cut them open The Strokes would play, with the bassist having a Kurt Cobain style presence. A moment during the intro to the second song, the drum beat was so similar to The Beautiful People by Marilyn Manson yet then twisted and went into a smooth, safe indie rock song. It captivated you as there were so many styles all blended into one. The vocals are almost slurred, definitely trying to recreate that laid back, nonchalant feel generic indie bands have. However, you cannot fault Ballamona on their talent. You can tell they have a direction and sound they are happy with and want to move forward in. They are a very melodic band, the music and vocals blend together like coffee and cream. It’s always good to interact with the crowd, however you need to judge the timing , as you will lose interest from the audience. Unfortunately this is the only time Ballamona slipped up during their entire performance, but no band is perfect when they first start out. Credit to them as they did pick it back up, captivating the crowd again and holding onto them until the very end of the set.

Little Maddy Storm with the big voice.
A huge contrast to Ballamona, with her music having a very ambient feel, unlike anything I’ve heard before. Maddy Storm and her band grab your attention in such a different way to Ballamona, the music tricks you into thinking it will constantly be a gentle listen and then the volume rises and Maddy releases a teaser of her powerful vocals. Whilst the music is good, it is so chilled out and relaxing, I could have easily curled up on one of the sofas and drifted off to sleep. Maybe Maddy wasn’t the right choice to have on after an indie-rock get up?
There were moments throughout her performance when the (intentional?) feedback detracted the attention from her voice, making it a struggle to make out the lyrics. Despite this, Maddy clearly has potential to become a strong character, there’s already a glimmer of front-woman in her. Her music is unique, it’s fresh sounding, you can’t pin point one particular artist she sounds like, and the performance tonight shows she means business and is not your typical singer/songwriter. There’s ambition, emotion and drive behind her voice. She just needs to act like she owns the stage, that it is her place…and she will go far.

For the entire performance that La Mode gave all I can think about is how the vocalist looks and acts so much like Joey Ramone that it scares me. With her voice also sounding like a mash up of Axl Rose and Joan Jett, it’s a very confusing gig to watch/listen…and I think I like it?
Songs such as ‘Electric’ inject the crowd with energy, with their sound being similar to Ballamona- very indie, punky, more aggressive vibes, dripping with attitude. Their cover of ‘Woman’is incredible, and I feel that most of the bands musical talent shines through this song. As someone listening to it you can tell that they love it and have worked hard on that, to do the song justice. La Mode are a band you can picture playing in bigger venues already. They have that edgy aesthetic that appeals to the younger generation.
Now, audience participation can be the make or break of your gig, asking the crowd to clap and getting blank looks back is always awkward, yet La Mode seem to have the audience wrapped round their little finger. The crowd claps and hollars along to pretty much every song. Impressive.
It’s time for the instruments to mellow out now, and let the vocals fill up the Night and Day venue like smoke. That girl has some lungs on her. She shouts, roars and yells her way through the whole of the set, never faltering, maintaining a consistent power few female vocalists actually master.
It must be a euphoric sensation being able to perform like that, and to end the set to a full crowd cheering, clapping and begging for more is such an achievement. La Mode should be incredibly proud of themselves.