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12th December 2017

Live Review: MSC Big Band

On a cold Friday night, the Manchester band got the crowd groovin’

You may associate the words ‘big band’ with swing, jazz and blues played for old-school singers with voices that can fill a room with song; and you’d be right.

What if I told you that big bands can play hip-hop and pop? You’d probably say I’m mad and I’d say that you’re probably right, however, I’d also tell you to go and see MSC Big Band next time they’re in town to prove how wrong you may be.

The night at Academy was kicked off by another Mancunian band, Plume, who hypnotised the crowd — initially a group of ten strangers, which grew to almost fill the room by the end of Plume’s set — with their unique show.

Each member added onto the music in layers by using loopers and beat pads. Particularly, the guitarist and singer were the main ‘mixers’ on top of the solid, frantic drumming and bass line.

Upon the conclusion of their set, Ad Hoc records had a DJ, Taurtollo, that filled the space between acts with his vinyl spinning of obscure Italian and Brazilian disco tunes from way back when. Sadly, Shazam couldn’t identify the tracks, so they shall forever remain a mysterious memory in the ether of my mind.

Plume have a new EP out on the 11th of December and Ad Hoc Records as well as their Djs, Taurtollo, Yadava, Sid Quirk and Dame, can be found on SoundCloud.

Seeing 26 musicians come onto a small stage in their white tops and glitter-clad cheeks with their weapons of choice is a sight to behold. Trumpets, trombones, saxophones, two keyboards, a drummer, a couple guitarists, a pair of bass guitars and a quartet of different vocalists are what make MSC Big Band.

The jazzy opener, ‘Ridin’ Round (Sky High)’ by Fatima, got the crowd interested in their style, and then they were blown away by the tracks that followed.

‘Intoxicated’ by Martin Solveig made the crowd cheer and bounce to the funky cowbells and brass instruments. ‘Concrete Schoolyard’ by Jurassic 5, ‘Holiday’ by Dizzee Rascal and Calvin Harris, ‘Diddy Bop’ by Noname, Cam O’bi and Raury (which, may I note, particularly pleased me), ‘American Boy’ by Estelle and Kanye West were the standout tracks that brought the collective’s sound to the streets, proving that big bands are current, cool and all those who disagree are wrong.

One big issue the gig had was completely out of the band’s control: the venue. Club Academy is small, dark and, quite frankly, has atrocious acoustics. MSC have a style that feels very intimate, and when they stand on the barriers that separate them from the mad spectators, it doesn’t feel up-in-your-face; on the contrary, it’s immersive and really draws the crowd into the action and creates a synergy that sticks with you after the show.

Academy made some of the sound muddy and, when combined with the standing stunt, gives the first couple of rows a suboptimal experience, which is luckily countered by the uncontrollable dancing and cheering the energy of the room pushes you to.

With adrenaline pumping through my veins for up to half an hour after the show and a numb jaw from smiling for the duration of the event, I was filled with glee, and was feeling proud of the local talent that thrives in the streets of the 0161.

You probably saw the posters for this event in the Students’ Union this past month and if you didn’t go, you should be kicking yourself. Not too hard, however, for MSC Big Band will certainly be back soon. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled, you won’t want to miss it.

Rating: 8/10

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