It’s often said that Manchester is cold and wet. On the night of Golden Fable's gig it was the same old story. Courtesy of Northern Noise, the cold was not to be found inside Kraak (pronounced crack). This unique venue is hidden in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, with the entrance concealed down a cobbled alleyway, happy to keep itself a secret, except to those in the know.
What wasn't a secret was the quality of the headline act, Golden Fable. The duo, from North Wales, were born out of the instrumental group pleasingly named Tim and Sam’s Tim and the Sam Band with Tim and Sam. Having already done live sessions for BBC 6 Music they were performing their first headline gig since being on tour with Mercury-nominated Field Music.
The night started off with David Strafford, a local singer-songwriter whose powerful voice took command of the ever growing audience, leading them along with songs like 'This One’s For You' which was written about and dedicated to his wife, who was present and watching on from the side of stage.
Then it was Golden Fable’s turn.
Stepping onto stage in a shimmering dress, the petite figure of Rebecca Palin was almost hidden behind the wall of synths. Guitarist Tim McIver stood to the left and they began to play music that hushed those gathered into a silence which lasted the entirety of the performance. Both enchanting and haunting, there is something almost otherworldly about the sounds they produce.
Having released their debut album 'Star Map' only a few weeks ago, this was a great opportunity to experience the beauty of the record in a live setting.
‘Chill Pt. 2’ layered acoustic electronic hits with the haunting high reaching voice of Palin, which floated beautifully high above the guitar, through the spacious backdrop of repeating sound.
We also heard the new single ‘Always Golden’. As a musical journey it took us from intimate forests to sweeping landscapes, painting a perfect picture of the natural beauty of the area that they call home. The track is a blend of earthy tones and gentle melodies, punctured by the resonance of some hymnal, angelic vocals.
About half way through, and with the audience under their spell, they decided to do something different. The two made their way down from the stage to the front of the crowd, gathering us closer. Without the microphone, only armed with an acoustic guitar, they began to play.
Nobody wanted to ruin this moment. The audience held its breath to enjoy these delicate sounds, worried that the slightest breeze might carry them away.
After three songs in this setting, including a stunning cover of Manic Street Preachers' 'Motorcycle Emptiness', they returned to the stage and rejoined their drummer who had been adding beats to the equation all night.
The performance was mature, and perfectly executed.
Yes, Manchester is cold. But after a performance like that, we left glowing. McIver summed it up perfectly at the end: “We’ve had a Kraak-ing time.”
Words by Daniel Savage
Photos by James George