Salford Music Festival returns for 2018 with a great line-up. The Festival has appeared in various guises over the years with countless acts and numerous venues dotted all over all Salford. This year, it's packed into two nights and two great venues. It's the perfect festival with a wide range of acts, some local favourites, top drawer headliners and a tribute to Mark E. Smith. Not only that, it's just a tenner for both nights.
Broughton songstress Ren Harvieu tops the bill on the Friday and Lester Verde and Tekel All Stars are part of a great line-up. Also featuring on Friday are Salford Star favourites Factory Acts. It will prove difficult to resist the swirling, atmospheric brilliance of the duo. Or you can choose to take in the acoustic stage where James Holt and Danny Donnely are amongst the talent. The night culminates with Hacienda legend and all-round top bloke Dave Haslam. He will be playing tunes from 11pm.
We last encountered Ren Harvieu at The Dancehouse playing a stripped back set at Terry Christian's Mad Manc Cabaret. It was an intimate performance that underlined a spellbinding, unique talent. Ren is a respected live performer and her voice has a timeless feel that tips the hat to classic Soul and Motown.
The songs from the great debut album Through The Night have a shimmering, fragility that is reminiscent of Kate Bush. Thankfully, a second album is in the offing, as Ren informs, "At the moment I've been working a lot under the radar planning and scheming and sleeping and finishing my second album. I'm in cocoon mode at the moment, but the butterfly is dying to get out."
After the extremely successful first release, Ren is back and in an inspired mood... "I'm listening to a 60s harmony band called The Free Design, I'm obsessed with them" she says "I like this band called Dreamgirl who are from Kansas City. I'm also looking forward to watching Molly who's playing at Salford Festival too [Acoustic Stage, Friday], she has a beautiful voice."
Ren burst onto the scene in 2011 with the critically acclaimed Through the Night single, and a top five album of the same name followed. Radio play came in abundance with the epic, Bond-esque Open Up Your Arms...As a result, Ren appeared on Jools Holland and her gigs quickly sold out...
"The highlight of my career so far was probably selling out The Ritz" she explains "And as much as it meant to me at the time, if I do it again with this record I will probably shed a few tears."
Friday is a perfect opportunity to catch Ren live before she embarks on the next instalment of her career. Although, it seems that she is slightly nervous about playing her native Salford...
"I do enjoy playing hometown gigs, but it's a little harder to get into the mood when a lot of my family and friends are in the crowd and know me as the pyjama wearing Salford pineapple up-do mess that I really am" she says "But I'm thankful either way for the bums on seats."
On her plans for the future, Ren is completely focused on the eagerly awaited second album..."What's coming up is a classic second album that I will unleash upon the world very soon. It's called Salford Superstar...Well it's not, but isn't that a great title?"
Former Mark E. Smith collaborator Ed Blaney is the brains behind the Festival, and his band take to the stage on Saturday. The latest Blaney album The Severance was a triumph with all the spiky angst you'd expect with a pleasing, melodic twist.
Saturday provides an ideal opportunity to experience Blaney in the flesh. Garsoons, Bobby Peru and Plexus are part of a great line-up that also has the unrivalled Four Candles. Again, punters can opt for the acoustic stage where we'll be keen to experience the highly recommended Jess Kemp and the wonderfully named Surreal Kinnock. Saturday also sees a fitting tribute to Salford music legend Mark E. Smith. There will be a film about the enigmatic frontman and Q and A session for fans of The Fall, old and new.
The organisers are keeping a couple of late additions for both nights under wraps, but further acts and DJs will be unveiled. What's not to like? We'll see you there.
Salford Music Festival
Friday 28th September Cobden Works, 37-41 Cobden St
Saturday 29th September Gilda Brook, 34 Wellington Rd, Eccles
For further details and tickets see the Festival website https://salfordmusicfestival.co.uk/
Words by Ian Leslie