Castlefield Arena, Manchester, Saturday, August 4
Started as a reaction to the IRA bombing of Manchester in 1996, for 10 years Dpercussion has brought together the city’s indie kids, hip-hop heads and everyone in-between for a boozy all-day party like no other. This is, apparently, the festival’s last, with a lack of funds contriving to bring the curtain down on one of the city’s most important musical dates.
Also coming to a sad end is the career of Mustapha Beat, The Answering Machine’s knackered drum machine – replaced today by a living, breathing human being on drums. It’s actually a change for the better, though – on the gorgeous Strokesian fuzz-pop of ‘Oklahoma’ they appear to be finally realising their promise of a year ago, rather than sounding like a scratchy, half-finished university music project.
Another local band coming on in leaps and bounds are The Whip, who relish their promotion to the Main Stage. New Order may be falling apart, but their anthemic synth rock lives on through singer Bruce Carter’s electro-pop troupe.
Next up, Cherry Ghost provide the perfect comedown soundtrack with some lazily strummed chords and folky majesty. With their debut album ‘Thirst For Romance’ a surprise chart hit, today the band are cheered on like the hometown heroes they are. Which is more than can be said for the day’s “surprise special guest”. Badly Drawn Boy shuffles on, mumbles something about “feeling like Phil Collins”, plays a few new tunes that sound like everything else he’s ever done, and shuffles off. No-one seems to notice.
For Swedish electro-house bods Lo-Fi-Fnk it’s a case of right band, wrong time. Catch these guys pilled off your mash at Club NME and they’d clearly sound amazing, but on a sparsely populated side stage next to an ice cream van at lunchtime, it just doesn’t work. London’s Twisted Charm fare much better, coming on like a British art-school Rapture.
Later, The Sunshine Underground round things off on the Main Stage with a set of primal punk-funk fury. They’re natural headliners; they may hail from Leeds, but their charged danceable rock is rooted firmly in the warehouse raves of Madchester. “This is the last song ever at Dpercussion,” announces singer Craig before ‘Raise The Alarm’ provides a fittingly raucous finale to the festival.
Or maybe not. Over on the Friends Of Mine/Blowout stage, a cavernous corner of the site housed under a railway bridge, they’re being usurped by some genuine locals. The Courteeners draw the day’s biggest and most partisan crowd. Already every gig this special new band plays feels like a proper moment – and today is no different. Every word of the band’s anthemic grit pop – from the stunning Libs-ian debut single ‘Cavorting’ to ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ – are bellowed back at the band.
Manchester, it seems, is back in the saddle, churning out bands left, right, and centre. It’s just a shame they haven’t got the dosh to celebrate it.