The Last Gig at Ducie Bridge

21 August
Ducie Bridge

Hiring a light plane to trail flags over a football ground pleading for the removal of a manager or board as a matter of protest is getting a bit passé, so congratulations to whoever managed to arrange for a thunderstorm that unleashed its fury over the Ducie Bridge pub on the last night before it got bulldozed.

Welcome to the finale. There are numerous pubs closing for financial reasons, but that wasn’t the case here. Having already ensured that the nearby Crown and Cushion was reduced to rubble, the neighbouring Co-op announced on a Monday that the Ducie Bridge was to close later that week. For a company that appointed a crack smoking leader who oversaw the demise of a seemingly moral group, hoping for an acknowledgement of where the roots of the company lay seems a forlorn waste of hope.

One of the last true local pubs, frequented by the people who have lived around the area for 30 years or more, the Ducie has been promoting live music every week and the incongruous sight of retired locals happily sitting next to people who could pass for their grandkids is sadly over. After the closure of the Roadhouse earlier this year, the number of venues that promote local talent seems to be declining at a worrying pace.

The crowd that turned up on the last night preferred to celebrate the venue rather than acknowledge its demise, though the thunderstorm seemed a decent enough protest.

People coming in from North Manchester used it as a meeting point at the fringe of the Northern Quarter and that was prominent tonight. Others mused that the NQ did not reflect the heritage of Manchester, but things have moved on since the bomb in 1996.

By 9pm, most of the beer pumps have a glass over the handles, indicating empty barrels. This time, they won't be refilled. Still, upstairs was packed with people listening to the three bands that preformed, whilst sweat drips down from the walls and rainwater percolates through the hole in the roof into the precisely located bucket in the gents toilets.

No one from the Co-op was spotted in the building.

Ged Camera

Photo: Sittin’ Pretty, the last band to perform at the Ducie Bridge.

Box Social III

1 August
Klondyke Club, Levenshulme

It will be noisy. It will be relentless. It will be enjoyable. As Mike Cahill, the lead singer with Gut Model utters, the Box Social event is a "good excuse to get me up on a Saturday". In keeping with the fluid nature of the day, he then asks if anyone has a bottle opener.

The day was as intense and heavy as the rain that fell just before the start, but that was nothing compared to the body-shaking bass that threatens to demolish the Klondyke as From The Kites Of San Quentin tried to finish off the day. Centre-stage is Alison Carney, flanked by Phil Bretnall and Kavan Bhatia. It’s not quite a rose between thorns, but the beauty of her voice is one that can seemingly shatter glass. The trio use visuals and projectors as an integral part of their act, with videos clips synced into the dense layers of electronica pulverising the wall.

Earlier, members of Mother were introduced by a bare-chested Karl Astbury with a less-than-flattering series of monologues, which included achievements best left to the bedroom. Seeing a drummer waddle on stage wearing a pair of flippers can be a bit disconcerting, but the playfulness shouldn’t be allowed to distract from the beguiling sounds the five-piece conjure up. At times intense and powerful, the group ensure there is enough diversity to quieten the mood and allow Allie Bell's crisp, pure voice to capture the attention of an enthralled audience. To demonstrate their flexibility, three of the group converge into a tent seemingly made for two. With knees crumpled and space at a premium, adversity delivers another cracking set.

Over in the Rogue tent, Irma Vep spat out family-friendly lines such as “Your father was a bastard / Your mother a whore,” and Rachel Margetts used a beer bottle to generate nicely distorted tones that provided warmth on a miserable day, weather-wise.

David McLean may have taken active participation to new levels by playing in at least two separate bands before taking the final slot in the Rogue tent as night descended. I’m sure he’s capable of playing the sax break from a Spandau Ballet song, but thankfully none of that was evident in the aggressive, agreeably harsh set.

15 bands later and as the lights flash to signal last orders at the bar, the streets of Levenshulme welcome groups of people with smiles on their faces wondering when the next event will be.

Ged Camera

Photo: David McLean.
All photos by Ged Camera.