You kind of pity anyone trying to run gigs during the World Cup - how do you drag punters away from the pub and that celebration / commiseration? Sound Control has this year taken the sensible decision that the best way to run gigs during England's campaign is to tie them into the schedules, which is why we're in there at half five. In fact we've been there since half time, watching the match on the big screen - a second half so tense that John Robb kept his mouth shut for almost the whole 45 minutes which is possibly some sort of record. They've also invented some rather tenuously World Cup themed cocktails, which is why MM is drinking something called a Baggio, the ingredients of which have been forgotten on the way upstairs, although at least one of them is decidedly weird tasting.
Going onstage immediately after a crucial England match takes some guts. Yeah, you might well get the best crowd ever. Or the worst. The spectre of watching a little-known opening support band walk out in front of ten downhearted people within an hour of England's sharp exit in 2006 looms large, although in fairness No*Tokyo very much lived to fight another day. As tonight's openers, 1913 are the holders of this double-edged sword - their classically Northern doom-indie would have probably done the job if England hadn't, but it's OK, our boys actually started playing recognisable football and the four red-shirted lads (plus drummer in the yellow version) find themselves playing to a bunch of somewhat relieved Goldblade fans and a group of children with large flags.
They may be called 1913 but their sound's more 1983. That kind of Chameleons and (very) early U2 sound; gloomy but uplifting, there's even a bit of an old-school goth sound going on in there, although thankfully not in the theatrical-twattery sense. They couldn't be pretentious if they tried, really - formerly timeserved in solid, dependable bands such as The Cardinals (the Mancunian power-indie lot, that is) and Frame Of Mind they're still young enough to be hungry but old enough to know that fashion is transient. So if their thunderous rhythms, delay-soaked guitars and synth melodrama are more akin to the post-punk revival trends of indie five years ago than the sunshine-pop that's cool this week nobody here's complaining. The tunes are great and they chuck them out with no small amount of passion.
The kids know what they're here for, though - all decked out in their "Goldblade For Eurovision 2011" T-shirts (you've got to admit, it would be amazing) they're leading the crowd from the off as the band blast straight into "Fighting On The Dance Floor" (next line: "fucking in the streets") - I mean how else would you start a set when some of your crowd's still of primary-school age? As training in the ways of rock'n'roll go, though, they couldn't have a better tutor. Few people in Manchester inspire the kind of love and hate that John Robb seems to, but down the front at a Goldblade gig it's pretty difficult not to get swept up in the euphoria of glorious, rocket-fuelled, singalong jumpabout punk rock'n'roll. There's a reason kids love them, and it's not just because their parents do: every single song is simple and effective, you can pick up the tune in seconds and if you don't know the words then shouting along to the "woh-oh"s will do just fine. John plays up to them too; pretending to lick your own snot up off the stage with a demonic grin may well, to us adults, sound a bit silly but when you're ten it's probably the best thing ever.
He laments, briefly, the fact that only about 50 people have showed up for this when there are millions glued to the telly but when the riffs crunch Goldblade never give it less than a hundred per cent. "Strictly Hardcore" is pure serotonin, "Do You Believe In The Power Of Rock'n'Roll" comes with the customary blessings to all the front pack, and the kids seem to be enjoying it so much - hell, why not let them have a go? So a little girl is handed a large guitar, an even smaller boy placed behind the drums and the resulting racket the sort of random cacophony that'd probably be held up as experimental genius if art-school students had created it. And by the time the set draws to a close with everyone singing along to "Psycho" the unfettered joy of being ten years old in summer has spread to every last one of us.