3rd March at Night & Day
Cosmo Calling’s sprightly, floral-shirted guitar pop seems to stretch beyond the dour Manchester they hail from — they are also signed to UoM student record label New Street Records — and into a more colourful musical lineage, though their spiky guitar leads hark back to various regrettably dressed mid-2000s indie bands such as the Pigeon Detectives, the lush vocal harmonies of Harry Preen & Phoebe Taylor heave the outfit towards a more folksy, Californian musical demeanour, as if Razorlight sinfully interbred with Crosby, Stills and Nash (but far more appealingly than that sounds).
Cosmo have gradually amassed a local fan base, as Preen earnestly remarks at one point to the packed-out venue, there were “like 5 people” in the crowd the last time they played there, and this gig at the Night and Day café has a valedictorian tone, with a resurgent band eager to promote their new single.
Despite the hideously offensive Northern Quarter pricing — £4.30 for a pint, which is almost enough to make one slide to the stained cobblestones in disgust — the place is busy.
Two support bands, A Gathering of Strangers and Tourist Attractions serve to rev the crowd out of a beer-sipping stupor. A Gathering of Strangers appear to be escapees from Aerosmith but play an engaging set of shirt-unbuttoned, I’m-so-wounded rock, complete with Jim Morrison poses and thrashy musical interludes.
Tourist Attractions, who are playing their last gig so I can’t be too rude about them, are a more studiedly indie proposition who appear to be compensating for A Gathering of Strangers’ disregard for buttoning etiquette by doing all their top buttons.
An avalanche of clean, NME-approved guitar riffs and funky, Foals-y drums follow in a polished set which is pretty much what you’d expect, ending with a likeable mashup of first-floor-of-Factory standards ‘Blue Monday’ and ‘Two Steps Twice’.
By the time Cosmo arrive, someone has given out glowsticks which have been shaped into halos throughout the crowd, transforming the venue into an outtake from Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet. Launching into their set, the band look endearingly bemused by the size of the audience and its willingness to play the game; halfway through, they try to get a chant going and the crowd gamely shouts along, to the apparent astonishment of the musicians.
Their bright-eyed and bushy-tailed indie goes down well in an increasingly sweaty room, with a series of handsomely crafted and easily danceable songs, and the band’s new single On the Wire spawns a jubilant impromptu sing-along.
Towards the end of the set, someone in the band asks the audience where they have come from to see them. “Australia!” shouts a man towards the front who is still jigging away in defiance of the fact that the music has stopped. “Argentina!” calls someone else.
My mate nudges me and tells me to say “Newcastle” but that would seem like small change by this point so I tell him to shut up. Still, if this energetic and melodic set is anything to go by, Manchester is only this month’s target for Cosmo Calling.