Every indie band ever to have created any kind of ripple on the UK music scene will have played a venue like The Roadhouse in Manchester. There is something about these small and sweaty cellars that can make or break a band. These are the venues where bands learn to play live and hone their performance in front of a small but often opinionated crowd.
Alpha Code make a post-punk kind of sound frontman Simon Sparkes attempts to engage the crowd in some banter but struggles to generate any interaction from the small crowd. Orchids are a more melodious proposition who apparently only received one days notice that they are playing this gig. Being a six-piece, they look somewhat cramped on the stage and keyboardist, David Renfrew is partly hidden behind a pillar. There is no hiding his talent and many of the songs are led by his strong playing. The stand-out moment of the set is a song called Geography where vocal duties are taken by rhythm guitarist, Pete Swift. It is an epic piece of music and conjures up the sweeping sound of Spiritualized.
The Maybes? have already treated us to a catchy debut single and the pure anthemic pop that is Talk About You is certainly a highlight tonight. However, they are far from a one-trick pony and it would be fair to refer to their forthcoming album, Promise as eagerly anticipated. The rasping vocal of lead singer Nick Ellis is totally Liverpool. Think Lee Mavers, Ian McCulloch, James Skelly, even John Lennon and if his vocal delivery doesnt betray his roots then the between song banter certainly does. Next single, Boys has the same sense of urgency as its predecessor with Ellis bemoaning the record company for being slow to get it released and half-joking that if anyone has a copy then hed like one. They play a brand new song called Daylight that is already slated for album number two and is more sweeping in sound than the power pop of the songs that will make up the debut album. Unusually, they choose to end with a twelve minute instrumental bliss-out, the melody for which Durutti Column would have been proud of. The crowd are impressed and whilst it is still definitely a maybe, this lot could just have what it takes.