November 23, 2016
“This feels like coming home”
Northcote can range from Matt Goud playing to solo to a full rock band. This time it was Goud on the electro-acoustic together with Stephen McGillivray on electric guitar, plus supports Jon Snodgrass, Non Canon and Sammy Battle piling in to join the fun.
A touring act claiming to feel at home is usually just a cliché, a boilerplate line repeated in each different city. Goud’s statement seemed sincere, though. The crowd in the small room above a Manchester pub drank in each trusty chord and sang each hopeful lyric with the familiarity and fierce loyalty of old friends.
As the band and the fans powered through earnest tune after tune – Worry, Hope Is Made of Steel, How Can You Turn Around and all the rest – an outsider could be forgiven for assuming they were all world famous hits. However, Canada’s Northcote built a faithful following half a world away the old-fashioned way, through touring and word-of-mouth. Long may it continue.
Northcote are currently on tour in mainland Europe, then back home in Canada. Check out the tour dates here.
“I came a long way and I’m not going to try to not play what you want”
The reaction to Jon Snodgrass’ every word and every song was more avid than many a headlining band could expect to receive – a band any less heartfelt than Northcote would have struggled to win them back. Not that there was any sense of competition, they played together for five songs.
Snodgrass recognised the crowd’s familiarity with his back catalogue and turned it over to an all-request set. Even that process was entertaining as he mulled over each title and either casually assented or grinned or playfully wagged his finger, occasionally testing out a chord progression or throwing in a Flaming Lips impression.
Whether he played more recent solo work, or earlier Dry The River or collaborative cuts, the crowd grinned and sang along. Jessica’s Suicide, Crocodile and Me and Joe Went Out To California went down particularly well. It was deep, rich rock with Americana roots, reminiscent of John Moreland who has been played in-between sets.
Snodgrass had a calm presence that made intermittent unamplified singing seem effortless and even made kazoo playing seem cool. That’s a sure sign of talent if there ever was one!
Jon Snodgrass is continuing to support Northcote as they tour Europe. Check ut the tour dates here.
“I’ve not going to patronise you by singing Wonderwall because we’re in Manchester…also I don’t know the words, and I don’t like it”
If only more visitors to Manchester would share Non Canon’s nuanced view of the 90s indie scene – a Placebo or Idlewild song would make a welcome change from yet another Oasis cover.
In the event, Non Canon chose to Pulp’s Common People, but the Idlewild influence was evident throughout. Non Canon’s love of wordplay and dissonance came out sounding like Roddy Woomble might if he’d kept his guitar downtuned when he went solo. A non canonical Woomble, if you like.
“I talk about weird crap and sing sad songs” was an understatement; between the dark acoustic ruminations in song was intelligent debate. There was a playful shut down of a drunken catcall with “not clear on the concept of linear conversation?”
Then he explained the phrase ‘non canon’ and how the alternative perspectives of a parallel story line mirror his current musical approach as compared to his Oxygen Thief persona. In case anyone was unfamiliar with sci-fi, he introduced a seasonal example of how something unworthy should be considered non canonical; Home Alone 3. There’s nothing illegitimate about Non Canon, though, it’s a musical experiment worthy of its own storyline.
Non Canon by Non Canon is out now – check out the various bundles available on the Xtra Mile website.
“He’s doing really well and I’m still in Manchester”
Local singer-songwriter Sammy Battle supported Northcote last time round and commented on the band’s subsequent trajectory with a touch of pathos. There was clearly no reason to worry, however, as Battle brought fans of his own and surely gained many more this time.
Battle shares the same determined, dynamic approach as Northcote and their Revival Tour friends. The full-speed delivery, fingerpicking and guitar thumping is used to share ultimately hopeful messages. Battle was sure to share that it gets better, no matter how bad things seem. On discovering an incomplete father-of-the-bride speech after his partner’s father died before the wedding could take place, he wrote Daddy’s Girl; something beautiful born of sadness.
Check Sammy Battle’s music out here.
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