The Pierces - Manchester Ruby Lounge
By the time the venue doors open, there's a queue stretching down the street. Not only that, quite a few of the largely middle-aged crowd are asking the same question - "What's it like in there?" It turns out lots of people who don't normally bother going to gigs - much less small gigs in city centre sweatboxes, yet have been attracted by The Pierces in their droves. Luckily they were in for a treat - this all-girl triple bill doesn't have a duff act on offer.
Up and coming Liverpudlian blues and country musician Delta Maid ("Not my real name" she jokes) kicks things off in fine style with a short but sweet set that includes what must surely be the first blues song written about an employee at Wythenshawe Hospital. Her reaction to WAG culture, the cute set closer 'Spend A Little Time With Me' marks her out as one to watch - a confident performer with an effortlessly cool voice.
Next up is Alice Gold, who powers through a well received, spiky, 70s influenced rock set, backed by a well drilled band. She's got stage presence to spare and got the crowd fired up nicely.
But it's The Pierces that this capacity crowd are here to see, though. Four albums into their career, their new album You & I (played tonight in it's entirety) has just gone Top 5 as a result of support from the likes of Jools Holland, something of a major breakthrough for these sisters from Alabama, who had once considered giving the music game up for good. They arrive in Manchester on the back of a well received set at the Isle Of Wight, and we find them in an understandably good mood, interacting cheerfully with a vocal Saturday night crowd.
The crowd go nuts for recent singles 'Glorious' and 'You'll Be Mine', both prompting the evening's big singalong moments. Other highlights included album closer 'Put Your Records On', an acoustic slowie about the obsession resulting from dating musicians. There's not much mining of their sizeable back catalogue in this hour long set, save three songs from 2007's Tales Of Love And Revenge. It's something of a shame, as part of their charm is their slightly off-kilter sense of humour - in evidence both in the spiky, deadpan show closer 'Boring' (sample lyrics - "Cocaine? Heroin? Boring") and the slightly macabre 'Secret' ("Two can keep a secret - if one of them is dead"). It would be a shame to see them lose this endearing quirkiness with their newfound success.
Their sound isn't particularly original, but it sure sounds good. 'Kissing You Goodbye' (introduced as one of the few songs they wrote together) is more than a little reminiscent of 'California Dreaming', and their laid back, folk rock sound has hints of other acts, ranging from Fleetwood Mac to The Bangles. Their harmonies work as well as well live as on record, though, and they seem to genuinely enjoy performing, and their enthusiasm for the material is infectious.
As the crowd file out, they can sleep safe in the knowledge that in a few months time they'll be able to say "Oh, The Pierces? I saw them when they played the Ruby Lounge..." - there's no danger of them playing anywhere this small again for a while.
Set List - The Pierces: Love You More / It Will Not Be Forgotten / Drag You Down / Space And Time / You'll Be Mine / Sticks And Stones / The Good Samaritan / Close My Eyes / Kissing You Goodbye / Secret / We Are Stars / Glorious // I Put Your Records On / City On Fire / Boring