LIVE REVIEW: Braille Showcase at Islington Mill, Salford

We encounter a great deal of pop music in our day to day lives. Radio, YouTube, Spotify and TV ads, which bombard us with the sight of delicious food whilst Clean Bandit softly whirl in the background. However, rarely do we get to experience pop music at its absolute freshest, its rawest, and arguably at its most real.

This is just one of the many things that the Braille showcase hopes to remedy. Situated on a hidden corner in Salford is James Street, on which can be found Islington Mill, the venue for this event. Within the mill, something good is cooking up: a brand new night of freshly discovered pop and alternative music, which made its debut Friday 16th April.

The venue itself is plain. Bare brick, steel pillars, an exposed feel. It’s very like Manchester’s Soup Kitchen in decor, only larger, but it shares all of the rugged charm of that venue. In some respects, the music reflects the rawness of the surroundings; though it’s glossy in feel, it’s unrefined and untested in delivery. This isn’t to say that the performances were in any way amateurish though, far from it.

The acts for the evening varied from dreamy indie through to Years And Years-esque R ’n’ B. Daiv delivered a tense, enticing set, LuSaint impressed the crowd with her fledgling material (and a charming Fleetwood Mac cover), Iben and Little Grace charged the room with an 80s-infused synth pop feel, and headliners Girl Friend were the most accomplished act of the night, packing their set with back to back bangers that were instantaneously memorable. It was an impressive lineup of talent, and there was rarely a lull in interest, as each brought something different to the evening.

Clearly the organizers have a good ear for talent, but what comes across most strongly is the care which has gone into the event itself. Careful thought has been put into the choices of act, with each one given a loving introduction by event runner Inigo Ford. There’s a great vibe throughout the gig, and you get the sense that you’re bearing witness to something really special. The combination of careful planning, venue and great acts makes this both a very intimate but also very exciting show, something a bit different to your average unsigned band shows.

In an evening which sought to celebrate and uphold the importance of pop music in a music scene which strongly favors the rock alternative, it was a resounding success. There was undeniable talent at Braille, and plenty of variety. The showcase returns later this year for another bout of pop mastery, so don’t miss out.

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