Star and Garter again, a STP jaunt with that selfish bald bastard Stu Taylor putting a gig on whilst the rain fell and the cold snuck into every personal nook and cranny.  Twat!  The fact he wasn't issuing hot water bottles on the door and giving everyone a rub down with curry powder shows the true nature of this hairless, selfish pig and I hate him for this.
Into the gaff, a piss (the only warmth in my body and I expelled it - what a fool) and a couple of beers and a chat with Barbara Taylor of the STP crew and the jovial bar chap whose name I can never recall.  And then...
Tinklings from upstairs, albeit a little later than expected (Mr Taylor obviously toying with my mind).  And so to AFS a band I have followed since day dot (yes I am one of the few - in fact the very few that have hung around since their 2nd gig) and have bloody well enjoyed the journey.  However this wasn't the Foot Soldiers in Arthritic mode (although they were seated which could be down to a bit of joint pain), no this was the new Acoustic Foot Soldiers with John (Gob) and Carl (Guitar) playing out a series of classic AFS tunes with only vocal chords and 6 strings to use.  The first few tracks had me on the back foot to say the least and in usual Fungal truth I wasn't that taken with them.  Bare-boned, a bit weak and lacking the 'ooomph' I am so familiar with (don't forget I am a well versed fan and know these ditties inside and out) despite taking into consideration that this was only a 2 piece and not a full bashing band.  The rest of the crowd (who perhaps were experiencing some of the songs for the first time) seemed to be enjoying proceedings and so, as per, I doggedly stuck at the viewing and kept an open mind (as best I could).  Despite my initial disagreement with the puked up dinnage I felt myself warming to the set and at a point when 'Radicals' and 'God Squad' spilled out I found myself quite taken.  The guys seemed to relax into things and a little bit more bite was given to each number.  Down the final stretch and I found myself really enjoying the flow here and the cover of 'My Country' to finish was quite fuckin' choice.   Overall my feelings, as stated to Carl next morning, were of an embryonic outfit still finding their feet (which won't take too long) who have a load of gas in the tank to just go on and on and improve all the way.  It is funny really that such a brace of experienced 'erberts are not fully at home in this new venture and just goes to show that testing oneself with new noise and vibes is always good for the progression of the musician.  The fact now though is that I am still an Arthritic Foot Soldiers fan but am now an Acoustic Foot Soldiers fan too - I think that about sums things up!
Back down and a chat with a few friendly faces and a goodly wait before the next unit were on.  Eventually up I went to view The Crows, a new outfit to me and so one I could look upon with neutral eyes (although with a few familiar faces in the mix I did have to resist the 'swayed' sensation).  What The Crows offered was a pleasant mix of folky indulgence spiced up with a bit of passion from that eternal rocking and rolling 'erbert Richie Rocker (twisting and a gurning away).  I do have eclectic tastes and so this was easy fodder to nibble at and despite the Cocksparrer cover (oooh I hate that bilge) I found this to be a rather entertaining set filled with a settled serenity and highly melodic favour.  This and the preceding AFS outpouring did have me wondering if I should nip outside and get a flaming brazier and a few dungaree clad lesbians and thus set up a communal area where we could all skip about and protest about this, that and t'other (I hate stereotypes and recognise the fact it would be naughty to mention anything of this ilk so...I the best (or worst) possible taste).  Back to it - one of the reasons the songs were well constructed was perhaps the fact that we had ex-members from MDM, Instant Agony and Play Daisy and people who have done their fair share of noise listening over the years - it can help.  I really couldn't find a dud among the crop and do need another listen to familiarise myself with the songs but for me this will be, more often than not, a welcome addition to many a punky gig.  When impetus was built and strings were strummed harder the edge obviously grew and a nice ripple was made on what were primarily tranquil waters - cute.  Overall no gripes and with many contacts available to the band I can't see them wanting for gigs - good luck to em'.
So time cracked on and with a lift due at 10.15pm and Bite Back hitting the stage at 10.05pm I decided to leave em' to it rather than tease myself with a 10 minute taster (purely my loss as Bite Back are a good unit).  Another Stu Taylor trick if you ask me or am I just paranoid ha, ha. 
So in summing up - two decent outfits seen on a cold night in Manchester.  It was what it was - a warm-up gig that was poorly attended and yet deserved more.  A few made the effort (good on em') and the bandwagon rolls on (without me on board of course) and here is wishing all well in their endeavours and rock and roll journeys.  No doubt the Saturday Rebellion show will be full whilst I struggle on with the Underdogs in Bradford but hey each to their own - I am happy in the muck with the other passionate pigs who chip in along the way - oink, oink.

review by Fungalpunk/OMD (7 December 2012)