Written on 28/10/2011 by Michael Dunbabin • No Comments

Real Estate

with Alt-J & Spectrals, Islington Mill, Salford
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Budweiser Sprite do you feel alright?…yes sir!

Arriving 45 minutes early to a gig is never a good idea, especially not when it’s the windiest mother of a night in Salford. Throwing caution to the wind, me and Ben (previously ‘+1 Ben’, but tonight he’s ‘Pay Full Price Ben’) go the off licence in search of a couple of tinnies and are thanked for our troubles by a middle aged salford ‘dad’ with his two sons pushing a trolly with a guy (Fawkes guy, not a human guy) violently compressed under a suitcase. I give what feels like a £2 coin to the “dad” who quickly sees that it is in fact a 2 pence piece, well he’s not fucking having that is he, so he throws it to the floor in disgust and mumbles the line “I don’t want 2 fucking p mate”. I gave him the 2 quid coin and ben gives some money to the kid only for “dad” to wrestle it off his beloved son and on that note we continue our mission for tinnies. The off licence, by the by, has the finest selection of alcoholic beverages for any homeless person, it’s like cheap strong percentage drink mecca, full of stock ranging from kestrel super to special brew, white lightning to turbo ace. As me and Ben live in south Manchester though we both opt out and have a can of Heineken each.

We get back to Islington Mill, where a top class crew assembled we get on with the important stuff of bar time!

∆ (ALT-J) are fiddling around with sound check still so we kill a few moments sinking beers and in my case knocking them over. I can’t help but notice the singer is sporting black nail varnish on one hand, Ben points out that no good male bands wear nail varnish, which got me a thinking….The Cure...Iggy must of worn nail varnish…Bowie perhaps….I’m sure Lou Reed must of messed about a bit with nail varnish in his time. ∆ (ALT-J) don’t really sound like their name nor dress sense would have you imagine, they kinda look all bookish and nice, that said I was really into some of the harmonies and nice use of keys. I unfortunately missed most of their set due to my nicotine cravings and was it just me or was there set really short?… maybe just me. What I did hear though I liked, a nice melding of Pentangle-esque melodies/harmonies with some lovely guitar picking and inventive out of time beats.

                                                          ∆ (ALT-J) – Breezeblocks

Spectrals are lovely aren’t they. Me and Ben discuss how the fact that he’s a Yorkshire lad just makes it that little bit more sincere and great…is that bad? Anyway Spectrals come off like The La’s having a bit of a kick about with The Pixies in surf mode… what a great sight that would be, I can imagine The Pixies would be shit at football, Frank Black definitely in nets. Great pop hooks though and a really nice voice to flop your fringe too (of which there is a lot going on). Just as everything’s going a little bit twee for my liking I’m cushioned by a nice pillow of psych effects which gives the reverb drenched melodies  a little raw edge. Basically Spectrals deserve to be as big as a band that plays nice Yorkshire doo-wop surf music can be and in my book thats pretty big, like let’s say as big as one of those really big girls on a night out in Newcastle…. yeah let’s say that.

                                                              Spectrals – Big Baby

Shit, I hope he is actually from Yorkshire, that bit of reviewing would be a total disaster if he was a Lancashire lad.

Real Estate take to the stage and the place is rammed, the whole of the Northern Quarter must be like a ghost town tonight. Dude drummer with shoulder length bleached blonde hair under his cap tells the crowd that they’re partying tonight and everyone’s welcome who’s into that kinda thing. Dude drummer obviously likes partying, you can just tell with these dude drummers.

                                                              Real Estate – It’s Real


There’s so many shit descriptions I can use to describe Real Estate such as dreamy, sun bleached, washed out, dream pop etc etc but as you are reading this I take it you already know these things and also there all shit descriptions (which I’ve still managed to get in). Lets just say that they manage to be totally humble and thoroughly down to earth whilst playing songs that could fill a whole bunch of movies about doomed teenage love affairs set at the beach or maybe art school or perhaps an art school which is next to a beach? Real Estate are definitely having a big influence on Manchester at the minute I hear them in so many different Manc bands, which is a great thing. There’s something about coming out of the miserable Manchester weather and being submerged in this unapologeticly happy sunny music that just makes you go “aww bless”. On the whole this was a really special little gig which held everyone’s attention and seemed to float by far to quickly in a hazy little cloud.


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