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FESTIVAL OF BRITON (FRI)
:: TVH-3 :: Misty Dixon ::
10 October 2003 / The Roadhouse / Manchester
By Cath Aubegine

Öbut first, a little rant, if youíll humour me.

This is the Festival Of Briton. Therefore, it belongs in the Britons Protection. Not in the Roadhouse. I love the Roadhouse as much as the next scruffy indie kid, I mean they know what I drink, they have toilets that work and everything these days, but the Festival Of Briton belongs over the other side of town, in a pub. The reason itís not there is, apparently, due to the fact that said legendary hostelry isnít allowed a Live Entertainment licence any more because the residents of nearby executive housing developments got on a whinge about it.

Now I am myself a City Centre resident; obviously since before flats, sorry apartments, went into the six figure bracket. I have a proper job with mornings and everything. And my considered opinion is that if you canít take a bit of noise and life then there are plenty of nice suburbs to accommodate you. On summer evenings Canal St pumps hard house and Euro-disco (not generally the type of thing that gets much of an airing inside Aubergine Towers, to put it mildly) right into my living room; come this time of year the mating call of the inebriated student can be heard from 11pm till late. As far as Iím concerned if you live in the city centre you take the whole package. Which should include the restoration of the Britons Protection as a live music venue.

+ + + + +

At first we think someoneís mistakenly put an early Ultravox record through the PA. Going to investigate, weíre confronted with a man in a bowler hat and suit sitting at a keyboard looking rather like a waxwork. To the right, a tall man with Uma Thurmanís Pulp Fiction haircut on guitar. And in the middle, tonightís finalist in the Ian Curtis lookalike contest is performing big fish / little fish / cardboard box / big glass window mime artistry. Yes itís Thee Virus House(or some version thereof) and they have lost some of their letters. Crashing punk-electroclash-dirt-rock spills out over the retro-futurist keyboards and the frontman informs us ďThis Is Locust CommandĒ. (Or possibly ďlocusĒ, not hat that would make much more sense.) Several times. In whatís turned out to be a week of frontmen who would possibly be sectioned if under different circumstances, he is definitely the most disturbing. Musically itís Gary Numan molesting Joy Division in a subway and the urge to join in with the 80s shape-throwing is getting bigger. Then heís down off the stage staring like a man possessed, flailing and shaking and then they disappear in a flurry of spaceship noises. It lasted about ten minutes. Did that just happen?

In a masterstroke of billing eclecticity, tonightís second act (Performance arenít here) is Twisted Nerveís girl band Misty Dixon. The band Jane Weaver originally intended to be dark and unlistenable are these days probably the most pop-oriented act on the label. Eventually things stop blowing up and crackling on stage and they can startÖ Janeís voice is on fantastic form, deep and lush and everything Dido would give her favourite twinset to sound like, and when blended with Anna Greenwoodís itís pure pop heaven. Most of the set is drawn from the album Iced To Mode, with ďAre You LostĒ taking on a particularly poignant air now Gill ex of Red Vinyl Fur sits in the drum stool once held by Dave Tyack. Iím terrible at song titles, but the one about Janeís cat is particularly good tonight, in fact the whole set sparkles. Dark and unlistenable it certainly isnít, and your FOB correspondent leaves the Roadhouse smiling.

Itís been a great week, a varied and enjoyable showcase of the astounding array of musical talent in town. Roll on next year!


Resources:
Misty Dixon Website (Twisted Nerve)

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