Chris T-T in Manchester

It’s taken a few days for me to write this particular review, as my initial attempts resulted in the written version of a frustrated howl. Chris T-T is a superb musician. Lyrically, his songs are thoughtfully written, conveying the struggle of being young in a country where the politics are fucked, the environment is fucked and there are no jobs. Musically, T-T’s talents shine brighter than anything you’ll see Cowell & Co drivelling about on a Saturday night. (This image isn't mine)

It is a disgusting sign of the times that I know a student, a member of the group of people supposedly the most educated in the country, who told me that she did not vote in the General Election, but watched every episode of the X Factor, and cried at the results. Despair prevails.

So when I was given my first chance to go and see Chris T-T perform his brand of quietly rebellious folk music for a fiver, I leapt at the chance. Chris T-T was performing a last minute show at Sound Control, a popular and modern venue on Manchester’s Oxford Road. The gig was part of the well-publicised TUC conference taking place in the city earlier this week.

Manchester is often described as England’s “second city” for its outstanding musical history. In recent years, Manchester has been accused of resting on its laurels musically, relying on the fame of previous musicians and recycling a sound that is now tired and strained. This is a fair point, and one that is easily explained. The three universities are attracting students that are increasingly from further afield. These are students who are in Manchester for a short time, and have no loyalty to the city. They are not forming bands or investing their time and money in going to see local acts, but rather throwing their money at tired establishments like Jilly’s, 5th Ave and 42nd Street.

They are not taking the time to explore the city, but all seem to want to be stereotypical indie darlings. Only the newest bands fed to them from the pages of NME will do. Their loss, I say. There were far too few people who managed to make it to Sound Control on Tuesday, to see an artist who deserves to sell out Academy One.

Chris T-T took to the stage around 10.30pm, with a handful of curious TUC members, me and Chris (of Nice Try Radio) for company. Luckily for Chris T-T, NTR Chris and I are a rather noisy audience, and knew most of the words. Luckily for us, Chris T-T didn’t let the small audience faze him, and went on to play a brilliant show.

The best parts were T-T’s slowed down version of “Elephant in the Room” and “A Box to Hide In” – the latter of which usually has me in tears, but which took on a new, more positive angle when T-T sang it from on high. Also great was Chris T-T’s “M1 Song” – an accapella masterpiece that reverberated around the room with truth and beauty. “English Earth”, which I hadn’t heard before, simultaneously broke and healed my heart.

Though I was part of a crowd that could have been, at most, 35 people strong, I left Sound Control on Tuesday feeling nourished. I believe that music truly is the food of love. It would seem that the inhabitants of Manchester are happy to consume junk.

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