Photo by manchestertaper

Having spent Gideon Conn’s formative years on the Manchester singer-songwriter scene living on the other side of the planet, I must confess ignorance of him before this night.  The only information I am armed with as I enter my favourite venue in town is that Conn is “eccentric”.  So is Tom Cruise, I silently ponder.

The opening number is an amusing little ditty about a hard-working fishmonger, quietly strummed by a solo Conn.  It’s a fun lyric, but I’m not yet convinced.  With his ironic trucker cap and mannered speaking voice, one can’t help but wonder if all this isn’t just a hipster put-on.

All fears are soon assuaged as the band takes the stage and begin kicking out a funky rhythm.  Conn launches into a hip-hop vocal and before I know it he’s in the audience, dancing like your kid brother who’s drunk too much Buck’s Fizz at a family wedding.

“Quite early for me to go downstairs,” he announces with a cheeky grin.  I’m officially converted.

What follows is, indeed, eccentric, and often amusing.  Conn is far from being a comedy act, however.  More he’s Manchester’s answer to Jonathan Richman, with all the wide-eyed joy that tag implies.  I can’t remember the last time I smiled so much at a gig.

Musically, Conn and his band are all over the map, switching effortlessly from gentle ballad to soul and beyond.  Guest vocalist Josephine Oniyama is a particular highlight, her warm tones bringing an extra dimension to “Colours” and “Raise the Bar”.  And for the funk nerds out there, there’s even a cover of Archie Bell & the Drells’ 1968 hit “Tighten Up”.  Clearly, Gideon Conn knows his onions as well as his fish.

Stream “State of the Nation”:

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Download complete show in MP3 format (click here)

Download complete show in FLAC format (click here)

Setlist:

The Man Who Drives Around Selling Fish
I Want You Around
Mighty Lightning
Wildfire
Carcenogenics
Read the Signs
Colours
Take It All
Fall Under Tokyo
Trademark
Our Future
Tighten Up
Real Life
Raise the Bar
State of the Nation
Inside

If you download and enjoy this music we would fully expect you to support the band by buying their records and attending their gigs.  Gideon Conn’s official website is here and his current album can be purchased here.

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