After some confusion with Google and a narrowly avoided taxi fare to an identically named church in Middleton, we finally find St Michael’s tucked away on a quiet street in Ancoats. Originally founded in 1858, it was once the heart of the Roman Catholic community in Little Italy. Tonight, it’s a music venue with arched white walls, green velvet curtains and a grand piano dressed in an array of fairy lights.
Opening the evening is Francis Lung, an indie pop project formed by singer-songwriter, producer and former bassist of Wu Lyf, Tom McClung featuring Coralie Monnet on vocals and Josh Sowa on piano.
Performing for the first time as a trio, the stripped back setup compliments the space well. Songs like ‘Selfish Man’ and ‘Back One Day’ retain their upbeat indie-driven roots with clean, staccato guitar riffs but are mellowed by warm harmonies and delicate piano. Particularly pleasing are the venue’s natural acoustics as McClung draws away from the mic and ventures into higher registers.
With just seven songs, the set finishes all too quickly and all three members perch around the piano to perform an intimate version of previously unreleased track ‘I Wanna Live in My Dreams’.
Philadelphia raised BC Camplight, aka. Brian Christinzio, relocated to Manchester in 2012 and tonight kicks off his solo grand piano tour in his recently adopted hometown.
“Welcome to the community production of BC Camplight.”
Casually inviting the audience to shout out requests at any point during the set, he begins with firm favourite ‘Just Because I Love You’. Stripped from layers of instrumentation and studio production, Christinzio maintains the depth and integrity of his work allowing us to focus solely on the skillful arrangements, soulful falsetto and candid verses.
The setlist derives mainly from 2015’s studio album ‘How to Die in the North’, later incorporating older material such as ‘Oranges in Winter’ and ‘Lord, I’ve Been on Fire’ with a couple of choice Randy Newman and Hank Williams covers thrown in.
Between songs Camplight meanders through anecdotes of recurring drooping mic dreams and psychedelics, peaking with a spoken word rendition of a “Little BC” tune entitled ‘Raging’ – purportedly one of his first songwriting attempts.
The addition of Adam Dawson on percussion midway through the set is a pleasant transition into more upbeat songs such as ‘You Should Have Gone to School’ and ‘Grim Cinema’, compelling fans at the back to put down their drinks and to start dancing in the aisles.
Camplight winds down the evening nicely to wistful, ballad like and self proclaimed downer ‘Atom Bomb’, before withdrawing to the merch stand. No false pretences and no encore.
BC Camplight is set to perform at this year’s Deershed Festival between 21st and 23rd July. The most recent album ‘How to Die in the North’ is out now via Bella Union.
For news and updates on BC Camplight, head to the Website: http://bccamplightmusic.com
Photo Credit: Francis Lung by Holly Whannel