• Antonia

Villanelle & The Northern Wonder @ The Peer Hat, Manchester. 25/08/21

For a Wednesday night, the atmosphere at Manchester's The Peer Hat was certainly buzzing; pints were flowing and the sweatiness of the basement venue only added to the excitement.

First to grace the stage was Bobby West, a Liverpool native artist with a commanding stage presence and throwback, blues-rock sound. Taking centre stage with a guitar in hand, Bobby is joined by a backing band, amplifying his gritty storytelling. His convincing vocal and lyrical deliveries incline you to believe that this man has a few stories to tell and his laments of love and heartbreak fill the intimate venue; it's difficult to not be drawn towards the melancholic, shimmering guitar sounds and his vocals that ooze an impressive, controlled vibrato.

After a short break, Villanelle & The Northern Wonder, a duo who are joined by a band to create a five piece, open up their set with sultry guitar riffs and some good old hazy rock with a splash of 70s psychedelia and a dusting of Americana. Delicious.

The band's confidence and stage presence makes it difficult to believe that this is their first headline show, for them it looks like slipping comfortably into an old pair of boots and they take it in their stride. Their chemistry is warming to watch, you can really tell that these people love making music together, sharing lead vocals between a mellow, bass voice and tenor croon as they look at each other lovingly.

Atmospheric, echoey and reverberated sounds build in layers and the duo show off solos that are a journey in themselves, creating a complex sound that spirals into your soul like the soundtrack to a lucid dream. The duo perform a more stripped back track with just piano and a touch of drums as a backing, delivering a juicy duet that oozes soul and musicality, showing that Villanelle & The Northern Wonder are versatile in their songwriting in a way that can still capture the attention of their listeners.

Their latest release is an EP entitled 'Dark Days At The Grand', a highly addictive listen that is sure to be on a heavy rotation but I can honestly say that it is on the stage with the hubbub of an audience is where Villanelle + The Northern Wonder are truly in their element.

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