Monday saw the second March edition of Sofar Sounds in Manchester. Following a successful event at the Pankhurst Centre on March 8th in support of International Women’s Day, this time around guests were invited to the HQ of Thoughtworks on New York Street, where amazing panoramic views of the city could be witnessed.
Once everyone, newbies and veterans alike, were settled in the generous office space, we enjoyed a warm welcome from Manchester organiser Lisa Murgatroyd before first act Kristian Harting took to the floor. Armed with just his guitar and impressive mop of curls, Harting charmed the crowd with his simplistic approach and comedic interactions.
Originally starting off in a thrash metal band in 1992; several solo and group projects later his music is much calmer, although he made a point of mentioning that he normally uses loop pedals and effects on top of the acoustic session he played for Sofar. As well as singles ‘Soul Collector’ and ‘Sole Dancer’ which has enjoyed notable airplay back in his native Denmark, Kristian also performed a song in Danish, which added an extra dimension to his set, and got the night off to a great start.
Next up were local band Glass Tides, a four piece that played as a trio for the night’s performance. Paring back their usual heavier sound by omitting drums and using an acoustic bass, the group’s material fluttered between folk and indie; with lead singer Samuel Jenkins’ impressive vocals taking centre stage amidst the crunch of bass courtesy of Mark Khan and the refreshing sound of Tanah Stevens on violin.
Lyrically, their material was the most interesting of the evening, as there seemed to be more of a story to tell behind the words, and they are a band not afraid to challenge themselves with difficult timing and unusually structured tracks, which fortunately they have the musical skills to do justice. Their latest single ‘Black Knight Satellite’ was released on March 6th.
Third in the spotlight was solo artist Alina Ly, who was visiting the UK from LA. Her honest songwriting touched upon the difficulties of a long distance relationship, and her connection with her father, and her delivery was heartfelt and emotionally charged. The room fell into complete silence as she performed, as it was almost like watching someone play for themselves, as though we were intruding on a very personal experience. This illusion was shattered once the songs finished though, as Alina broke into warm smiles, extending her gratitude towards the audience. Her vocals were reminiscent of fellow American songstress Colbie Caillat – very listenable and accessible to a wide range of potential fans.
Closing the night was Benjamin Yellowitz, accompanied by a three piece band, who played bass, keys and electric drums. Just about to embark on a European tour, his record ‘Ash Wednesday’ was launched on March 16th, and an EP is due for release shortly. Benjamin seemed the most comfortable with performing and marketing himself in front of a crowd, which is not surprising given that he has been playing gigs since he was 17. His alt-rock style material focused heavily on effects created by the instruments, and his voice has that folk music huskiness to it that so many male singer-songwriters are enjoying success with at the moment.
Another diverse and interesting evening provided by Sofar, which is now held in twenty cities across the UK, as well as numerous countries all over the world. See where you could attend an event and sign up at http://www.sofarsounds.com/.