March 2020 was one of the worst times to start a band. At least on paper, anyway.
The world pressed pause on live music and gigs last spring – physically splitting music groups and bringing an abrupt halt to rehearsals, recordings sessions and stage performances.
For many, it marked the end. When it became clear that COVID wasn’t going away, thousands of artists decided to call it a day – fearful that their next payslips would be permanently postponed.
But whilst most bands chose to unplug, four lads in Failsworth were only just getting started.
Vocalist Tom Smith, guitarist Daniel Ashcroft, bass player Steve Jillings, and drummer Alex Amidulla proceeded with plans to form a new group – unperturbed by the pandemic-sized hurdles being added to an already-challenging route to success in music.
The quartet – who are Mancunian to the bone – made a bid to embody the oft-cited catchphrase that ‘Manchester does things differently’.
Naming themselves The Haciendas, the group began creating energetic, alternative rock anthems that carried the same kind of swaggering energy and braggadocio of the Madchester era – defying the deflated sensation that consumed the city during quarantine.
The band took inspiration from Manchester’s musical heritage to create something new – and they did it during the most testing time for music in recent memory.
Even their breakthrough was different. Whilst most groups first get recognised on stage at a local pub, The Haciendas turned heads online.
The group played their first show together on a livestream for MMTV in July – proving such a smash that they sold out their first in-person headline show (which was subsequently cancelled due to a second Stay At Home Order).
The Hacienda’s unique brand of lockdown rock even secured them an interview in Manchester United fanzine United We Stand. For four huge Red Devils’ supporters, this achievement probably would have been enough in itself. But the group have ploughed on regardless through the rolling restrictions – releasing two singles and building an astonishingly large fanbase without playing a single real-life show.
Their first single, ‘It’s Not Too Late‘, was released on December 11 – reaching #6 in the iTunes Alternative Charts. Their second track, ‘Joker’, featured as ‘Record of the Week’ on XS Manchester.
It’s been an opening chapter that’s defied all expectations. But the next part of the story is the biggie.
The Haciendas’ first headline show has been scheduled for October 9 at The Bread Shed in Manchester – with the group (hopefully) finally set to play a debut live gig in front of packed hometown crowd.
“We entered the music industry together at what turned out to be a very strange and unfortunate time,” says lead singer Tom.
“Although we took it in our stride and without the chance of getting out there in front of crowds, we have managed to build a fan base and release two singles.
“We can only imagine what it is going to be like once everything has blown over.”
Tim Healy surprises fans with performance at The 1975’s Newcastle gig
The 1975’s tour has seen some seriously memorable moments so far, including several special guest appearances, but seeing Tim Healy give a surprise performance has to be the jewel in the crown.
While the band might have formed in the Wilmslow and plied their trade in Manchester on their way to success, several members of the current lineup — including frontman Matty Healy himself — were born in Newcastle, so the gig at the Utilita Arena on Wednesday was very much a homecoming show.
With that in mind, when British TV royalty, Geordie icon and Matty’s old man, Tim Healy popped up on stage, the crowd understandably went wild.
There were no doubt plenty of confused faces when a trademark Matty monologue and sudden cut to black was followed by the bloke from Benidorm appearing up on stage, but there was also a scream bigger than any response Taylor Swift got.
Whipping out some significantly more dramatic thespian ability than the kind you’d associate with his Auf Wiedersehen, Pet days, albeit still fully aware of bizarre the entire spectacle was, he brought one of his son’s trademark digressions about method acting to a close.
But better than that, the 70-year-old ended up staying on stage to perform his own low-key ‘All I Need to Hear‘ cover as the band played in the background. Surreal.
To be honest, it might just be the wholesomeness of it all, but we think we might prefer the older Healy’s version.
Sing it, Tim!
Imagine bringing your dad onto the stage only for him to absolutely steal the show. Brilliant stuff.
Both he and Matty’s celebrity mum Denise Welch have been spotted at various shows as the band continue to perform their ‘At Their Very Best’ tour around the country, with various fans interacting with them in the crowd, but very few would have been expecting an impromptu song from one of them.
Both are obviously more closely associated with TV, with Welch known for appearing on the likes of Coronation Street, Hollyoaks, Loose Women and many more, but if we don’t up end up getting both of them on stage before this tour is over we’ll be genuinely fuming.
It also looks like the reaction meant a lot to him:
Elsewhere in the show, The 1975’s Newcastle fans were treated to an equally ridiculous surprise appearance from Harry Styles. Well, not really…
In case you haven’t seen it already, the band conspired to prank the crowd by putting the former One Direction star’s name up on the screen, only to bring out Scottish singer Lewis Capaldi instead.
He obviously got just as lovely a reaction and fully leaned into bantering with the crowd — joking, “I know what you’re thinking: ‘Harry Styles‘ looks a bit different.'” — before performing a cover of ‘Antichrist’.
Featured Image — @.millr (via TikTok)/@evie_ire (via Twitter)
The Lathums announce biggest-ever headline show at Castlefield Bowl
Coming off the back of a hugely successful year or so, The Lathums have announced a massive headline show at Castlefield Bowl later this year.
The Wigan four-piece shot to number one with their debut album, How Beautiful Life Can Be, in October 2021 and Radio X gave their track, ‘Say My Name’, Record of the Year for 2022. Mint.
On top of a successful turn on the UK festival and gig circuit, the local lads also delighted Manchester crowds when they opened up as special guests for Snow Patrol during a big performance at the Bowl back in 2021 too. Safe to say they’ve been busy boys.
Now, though, ahead of the release of their sophomore album, From Nothing To A Little Bit More, the pie-eating Platt Wazzers are returning to the open-air venue to no doubt sell the place out and put on their biggest headline show to date. That’s what we like to hear.
Taking centre-stage at the 8,000-capacity amphitheatre once again — the very same place where they debuted the lead single for their new second album, ‘Sad Face Baby’, which has become an instant fan-favourite — you’ll get your chance to see The Lathums headlining this summer.
This news arrives not only fresh off the heels of the latest single ‘Struggle‘, the honest and full-hearted opening track off From Nothing To A Little Bit More, but a recent personnel update confirming that Matty Murphy is joining the band full-time after the departure of their original bassist, Johnny Cunliffe.
Set to play the show on Friday, 30 June, we’re glad to hear the beloved Manc band will be back to full strength in time for the landmark gig, as well as their sold-out show at Albert Hall on 11 March.
Announcing the news on Instagram today, they wrote: “We are delighted to announce we’ll be headlining Castlefield Bowl, Manchester on Friday 30th June. This is by far our biggest show we have ever done and we can’t wait to see everyone there. This will be very special indeed.
“Pre sale goes live on Wednesday 1st Feb from 9:30am. If you haven’t already, pre order our new album ‘From Nothing To A Little Bit More’ from our official website for access to pre sale. It’s honour to play such an iconic venue! See you very soon.”
Tickets for The Lathums’ Castlefield Bowl show go on sale at 9:30am on Friday, 3 February 2023. You best be quick.
From Nothing To A Little Bit More releases on Friday, 3 March 2023 via Island Records.