You know it’s going to be a good night when you’re greeted by friends with a free pint – the best kind of pint there is – even if it’s infused with ham as this one was. Thankfully I’m not here for the pork beer, I am here to sample a bit of Manchester’s finely brewed emerging talent in the form of Foxtales. A band barely a year old, Foxtales have had a year of playing some of the best intimate venues around including Night & Day Café and The Eagle Inn, and tonight grace the murky depths of The Soup Kitchen.
Before they do so however there’s a support slot to be filled and tonight this is done by local singer/songwriter The Bear Around Your Neck aka Nathaniel Scott (you can hear his live session for the Silent Radio show here). I quite enjoy his set, although I find it hard to hear many of the lyrics but thanks to crowd interaction betwixt songs I can say that half the set is about Satan. It’s enjoyable to see an artist make their acoustic guitar not sound acoustic as TBAYN does with fuzzy, grunge ridden noise. Having said this I’d be interested to hear a straight up acoustic set of his as there are plenty of pleasant melodies flying around. At times I struggle to see through his frizzy hair but he manages to hold the room’s attention with a strange intrigue and a brusque, but enduring, voice.
Onto Foxtales. They take to the stage of this gloomy basement, lit by fairy lights dotted around the stage. Aligned together with equally luminous qualities are Mitzi (bass), Cassie (guitar), Ange (guitar), Amy (mandolin) and Scoon (drums). With the exception of Scoon they all sing, quite wonderfully I might add, each with their own distinct voices beginning the first notes of ‘Sister Rain’.
I should sheepishly admit at this point that somewhere between the end of the night and getting home, I lost the set-list that I obtained… for my own collection you understand and definitely not to remember the names of the songs.
The crowd grows slightly restless between a few of the songs as the band swap instruments many, many times – however, Ange’s banter holds things together and settles not only any restiveness but probably their own nerves as well. That said, it’s still a confident performance. The combination of wavy guitars and mandolin works well under the vocals to create a psyched-up folky sound that is the premise of the set. The excellent vocal performances take centre stage throughout the night, with each band member possessing her own unique voice – this is evident on the intimate ‘Work No More’ a song whose bluegrass elements interplay with rich harmonies from Amy and Ange, Ange’s tremulous voice in particular emulating Emmylou Harris. Or on the Stealing Sheep-esque ‘Tommy’ where Cassie top-trumps her awesome Telecaster with an even better voice.
The value of a rhythm section can never be underestimated, so I should point out that some rampant drumming from Scoon along with Mitzi’s solid bass work and later admirable violin skills give the songs focus, substance and create a dynamic that makes this outfit stand out as something definitely worth getting exited about.
Read the review on Silent Radio