Billed as an intimate show for friends old and new, I wasn't quite sure what to expect as I made my way through the Manchester streets at 9pm on a rather clement March evening.

Lurking, but in a bold way (if that's possible), in the shadow of the G-Mex centre (the scene of The Smiths' last Manchester gig back in 1986) and the impressive modern venue, the Bridgewater Hall, is the Britons' Protection, an old fashioned pub of notable local repute. This is a proper pub with a good mix of students and drinkers. 

Taking a large slug of air, I enter and wind my way past the bar and several amply populated snugs, before heading upstairs. At the top there is a landing with several closed doors off it. I can hear the faint strum of a guitar, but can't be sure which door to take until a loud burst of applause greets the end of the song. I push open a door and slowly creep round it.

For a few seconds everything stops and everyone seems to be staring at me as I fail to blend in with the wall paper. Another song starts, eyes are averted and I take in my surroundings for the first time. The room is packed with about 80 people sitting on wall couches, chairs or the floor. I've never experienced anything like it, but it feels like I've entered a secret recital in 1930's Europe.

The support act (who turns out to be Otto Smart, a local musician signed to the same label as The Montgolfier Brothers) finishes with a song about a whale and a civilised 15 minute break to (re)charge our glasses is announced.

The Montgolfier Brothers then begin and within moments I have become completely immersed in their world of failed love, failing love, unrequited love, loss and longing.

They open up with six new songs that will form the backbone of their third LP due to be released in September (I am advised later that despite the record being finished it isn't being released until then to coincide with it's Autumnal feel). The fact that I've haven't previously heard them before doesn't detract from their stunning quality. Indeed as the rich tapestry of words and beautiful, but sombre music washes over me I feel amazingly empowered. Almost enough for me to chance my arm with the striking Mia Farrow (circa "Blind Terror") look-alike across the room. But this is me....

Of the new material, 'The First Rumours Of Spring' and 'It's Over, It's Ended, It's Finished, It's Done' make the biggest inroads into my bruised heart, but in truth all are very special indeed.

The last three songs are culled form the first two LPs and sound perfect in this setting. 'Seventeen Stars"' is a wonderful tale of a European trip, 'Even If My Mind Can't Tell You' is equally sublime and with lyrics that anyone would kill for and set-closer 'The World Is Flat' was surely written about me.

Singer Roger Quigley may be as well known as the capital of Ghana, but as a lyricist he is at the very least on a par with Manchester peers Morrissey and Johnny Bramwell (of I Am Kloot).

Stealing from the aforementioned, Morrissey, "this night has opened my eyes and the lure of a rented room in Whalley Range is shining like a beacon."







Related Links:



Commenting On: Britons Protection, Manchester, 10/3/3005 - Montgolfier Brothers








ie London, England

tick box before submitting comment
 


First Previous Next Last