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Sunta Says: Revisiting the Sweeter Side of Northern Life

I moved from Manchester to London 3 years ago and I love the crazy world that is living in the Capital. But I was reminded of one of the elements of northern life I miss at a special night of music in Islington last week.

It was the London album launch of the new MAK album ‘ten’ at the union chapel, and a chance to catch up with a lot of familiar faces. MAK is Manchester Aid to Kosovo – a charity originally started by five men in a Manchester pub after watching a news report about the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. MAK is committed to supporting the recovery of the people of Kosovo in both Kosovo and in the UK and 10 years on it’s still going strong. The charity has had a long standing relationship with Manchester musicians releasing albums and even putting on its own festival ‘Cohesion’ in 2006. The line-up for the Union Chapel gig was a reflection of that connection to the cities music scene.

Among the artists who played, including Liam frost, Silverclub, Jim Noir and The Travelling Band, was one of my favourite northern troubadours Gideon Conn (pictured above). Gideon is signed to the part Elbow owned Skinny Dog label and performed a couple of his quirky ‘tongue in cheek’ love songs. It wasn’t enough for the audience, who shouted for an encore. It’s not surprising, as he has a way of entertaining in that slightly old fashioned cabaret style with a knowing grin that leaves you wanting more. I urge you to see him when he returns to London to play the Borderline later this month. Gideon also invited the gorgeous Josephine Oniyama to join him on stage and then left her to fill the union chapel with her beautiful voice and guitar. It’s the first time I’ve seen her play and I am smitten with her story telling style.

The night was headlined by Badly Drawn Boy who released his 7th album in October last year. Damon apologised for the lack of time left for him to play and ran through the melodies of his biggest hits in quick succession as an apology, before playing a handful of his back catalogue. A cover of The Stone Roses “I Wanna Be Adored” was stripped back and spine tingling with dark undertones to the lyrics. The best bit of the night, though, came at the end when all the night’s performers joined Damon on stage, demonstrating the real friendships and loyalties these musicians have to each other. The Manchester music scene is a unique and special thing made up of record shops, bands, venues, DJ’s and promoters and I miss that community since moving to the big smoke. It was lovely to revisit it even for just one night.

-Sunta Templeton

You can visit the MAK website here: http://www.makonline.org/default.aspx

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