Its Facebook page cites: “Great bands, great people, no rip off festival prices and a damn good vibe...a big, big love” and this is what I was expecting for this event. I’d been wanting to go to Gigantic Indie All-Dayer in Manchester for the last few years but circumstances had otherwise prevented me. So I was looking forward to an evening of “reliving my youth” as they say. In the end I could only get to the evening part of the event anyway but was looking forward to hearing bands I remember from the late 80s and 90s. In previous years Pop Will Eat Itself, Echo and the Bunnymen and the Primitives have played. (I was really sorry to miss the Prims last year. I’ve still got my seven-inch of Crash bought back in the day).
The event took place today on Saturday May 28th at Manchester Academy across all three stages. Headlined this year by The Wonder Stuff who are fronted by Miles Hunt and formed in 1986 (this really is their 30th anniversary) they released their debut album The Eight Legged Groove Machine and went on to commercial success and to release catchy songs such as The Size of a Cow, Don’t’ Let Me Down Gently and Dizzy (a Tommy Roe cover version) with Vic Reeves. (I remember seeing them at Reading Festival the year Nirvana played: a long time ago). We got there around 6.30pm to catch the end of cult band CUD’s set (a four-piece from Leeds) who drew a good crowd. My friends headed straight for the Beer and Cider festival bar and reports were positive on what was on offer.
The first band we caught from the beginning of their set was The Darling Buds. Formed in Newport, South Wales in the mid 80s and fronted by Andrea Lewis they were the Welsh version of the Primitives with their style of Blondie/indie/60s pop they had perfected three-minute songs with Let’s Go Round There, Burst and Hit the Ground. They were in fine form playing to an appreciative audience. Andrea didn’t seem to have aged at all! She was modest too, when they played a quieter song she stated “I thought you’d have all gone to the bar for that one”.
Next up were The House of Love. I’ve still got their vinyl albums I bought as a teenager. Guy Chadwick and Terry Bickers were the main creative force of the band. They had their own blend of psychedelic indie and I fell in love with the singles Destroy the Heart and Christine which got to No. 1 in the independent charts in 1988. They had commercial success with Shine On (a new version of their debut single) and had a string of releases, I Don’t Know Why I Love You and The Beatles and the Stones to name a few. They too, were also on good form and quickly got the room buzzing and dancing to Never. I didn’t’ stop dancing for the first few tracks. Then they slowed down in the middle of the set and Guy had several guitar changes (around five?). Unfortunately a bit later the sound system went off a bit at this point but was sorted out relatively quickly. Their finale was the elegiac Love in a Car which kept me and the crowd happy.
The next dilemma was do we watch Bentley Rhythm Ace or The Wonder Stuff. We would try and do both. We hotfooted it across to Academy 2 and we weren’t disappointed as the whole atmosphere took you back 20 odd years or so to the acid/rave scene. Dancing on stage were Mike Stokes and Richard March resplendent in what can only be described as a gold lamé jacket (ABC eat your heart out) and some kind of shimmery foil hoodie and centre stage the front of a mini car decked out in neon lights! The atmosphere was party-like and when their hit Bentley’s Gonna Sort You Out came on the crowd went mad. I resisted the urge to shout “aceed” (okay I did once or twice). Great fun. (I saw them at Reading Festival nearly 20 years ago and they seemed more ravey now!)
Once they’d finished we legged it back to Academy 1 to catch the rest of The Wonder Stuff (missing Jesus Jones) and they didn’t’ disappoint. I particularly like the addition of violinist Erica Nockalls that gave their set an Irish reel feel to it. The violin complements their music well. (Nockalls joined in 2005). As well as these headliners there were many other bands including the above mentioned Jesus Jones (remember “International Bright Young Thing”), The Frank and the Walters, S.M.A.S.H., Telescopes, Credit to the Nation, BMX Bandits and many more that I didn’t get to see. Overall I really enjoyed the evening though didn’t stay any longer, missing DJ sets (including Mike Joyce from The Smiths). It was a fun way to revisit bands from my “youth”.