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In the City Report 2008 pg. 4

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First up was a young lady from Blackpool (of all places) who performed under the name of Little Boots. Described in the main handbook as having 'the blogsphere spinning in circles like a runaway disco ball' meant next to nothing to me, but I knew from her music on myspace.com she was someone who had a hint of Goldfrapp in her music.

Live, the music certainly pounded out in a Goldfrapp style, but what made it stand out was an almost early Depeche Mode synth highlighted on what I think was the third song, 'Love Ballad', which went headfirst into very dark territory indeed. The rest of the songs almost contained a faithless beat here and there in places, but the songs themselves were carried on with a style that clearly hinted a major talent was at play here, which was reinforced by the size of the audience watching.

The next artist, V.V. Brown , had a major challenge following a set like that, which I think if I am honest she only partly did. Apparently she had been on the 'Later with Joolz Holland' series recently. I knew Phil was really keen on seeing her, and considering she was on the same venue as Little Boots, I didn't have any problems hanging around before moving onto the next act.

To give V.V. credit, like Little Boots and the final act we saw, The Jesse Rose Trip, she is a very difficult act to pin down. She has a very unusual vocal style to start off, and although she beat boxed during some songs she largely veered away from the usual Hip-Hop and Urban vocals with a Billie Holliday meets Amy Winehouse style, adding touches of Beth Gibbons (Portishead). While not really my cup of tea (possibly not helped by the sound system which increased the volume of the bass to a level which, on several occasions, almost drowned out her vocals), there were a number of moments throughout her set which hinted at a really good talent emerging. This was most evident for me on her last track. After finishing she asked the audience whether they wanted to hear the reggae version of the song, which completely changed the tempo of the song and really surprised me.

The Jess Rose Trip to finish off was a major surprise also, as the local group (so I believe) had been surprising people around Manchester for a bit with. The 'In the City' booklet described the band as having 'Hendrix style guitar riffs, reggae and soul driven piano licks, deep distinctive jazzy vocal'. While I didn't pick up on much on the Hendrix style guitar riffs (aside from possibly the final song), like with 6 Day Riot, this was a band as I like to say threw everything in the kitchen sink and made it nearly impossible to say what they sounded like. I certainly picked up on the jazz elements with the trumpet and double bass taking it close to jazz in the first few songs. The singer Jesse then took it a stage further when she pulled out a ukulele which was a major surprise but added a quirkiness to the songs in question she played it on. The vocal range of the singer was again close to Billie Holiday but for some reason I kept thinking of Chrissie Hynde, even though she didn't really sound or look like her.

The best acts of 'In the City' clearly showed some very unusual risks being taken with music, which thankfully stepped away from the usual choices that too many acts make.

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