Mike Hughes is a revelation.

I have seen Miles Kane quite a few times this year alone, and I’m familiar with the Family Rain due to them playing Sound City and because I made the smart investment of buying their first EP, so it was brilliant to have such a talented second support act shake up a first thought predictable evening.

I know very little about Mike Hughes besides the fact he’s from Sheffield, but a quick Google has turned fruitful in the form of a free live EP at his website and one of his strongest songs on the night, '(That Girl is...)Misery' which is available via iTunes at the bargain bin price of 79p.

He’s rocky, he’s blues, he’s got ambitious poetic lyrics and he’s great live. If you’re a singer-songwriter, you have to be terrific, and if it’s just you up there with a guitar you better be doing something special to keep an audience’s attention for seven songs. It’s a cliché but Hughes’ voice brought a chatty venue to silence. Lazy journalists will compare him to Dylan or a senior Jake Bugg. With only 322 likes on Facebook the man is a find and with a tour with Miles Kane and an album forthcoming next year thankfully, we’ll be learning a lot more about Mike Hughes.

The Family Rain played a blinder and are clearly a band made for that sort of capacity, obviously dependent on how much killer and how much filler is on their yet-to-be-released all important debut album. It’s always interesting to see the difference in audience reaction before and after a record’s release. They seemed to have really worked on their live performance as well; a honourable mention going to a crazy one minute long seemingly improvised jam that occurs halfway through ‘Ready to Die’.

Miles Kane, as always, tries and succeeds in stealing the show. A colossal highlight coming near the end of the gig when the band segued from 'Give Up' into an almost trancey 'Sympathy for the Devil'. There was an incident with the kick drum that made Miles restart the most mature song off his new album, ‘Out of Control’, but besides that the gig flew by. I still think 'Come Closer' gets played too long live, but the fans love it and so I don’t imagine it being shortened any time soon. A great night that proves Kane’s new songs are doing their job.

The photographs that accompany this article were taken by Marie Hazelwood for Pennyblackmusic.

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Commenting On: Academy, Manchester, 28/9/2013 - Miles Kane, the Family Rain and Mike Hughes

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