The Northern Quarter was buzzing on Saturday. Seven venues hosted an impressive 81 bands all organised in aid of Mind Manchester by Benji Taylor. The day was a renowned success, musicians and poets entertaining packed venues from midday right up until 11pm. 

I kicked off my day with Afternoon People at Off The Square. Having followed this four piece for a number of years it is clear to see they have really taken off over the last 12 months, drawing quite a crowd, even in an earlier slot at 3pm. Frontman Finlay impressed with his energetic vocals, it was also great to see new drummer Oliver Clare making his debut appearance with the band. 

Next up was a short walk to The Castle to see The Haciendas put on a special acoustic performance, followed by the enigmatic and self proclaimed loud mouth Leon The Pig Farmer who was on form and stormed the stage with his witty astuteness and Yorkshire charm. 

Across the road the Cold Water Swimmers took to the stage at Gullivers. The band always draw in a large crowd and put on a brilliant show playing songs from their album ‘Holiday at the Secret Lake’. The trio have an awesome stage presence that compliments their post-punk rhythms and gritty guitar riffs. I was reluctant to have to leave just before the end but it was worth it to catch midlands four-piece The Pagans at Aatma. The Pagans have made quite an impact on the Manchester music scene in recent years becoming increasingly popular due to their melodic intelligent lyrics, and hip-hop influences. Frontman Marcus, as always was a delight to watch, with his cool as fuck stage presence and between song antics. 

After a short break and a quick pint I caught up with spoken word artist Argh Kid at 33 Oldham street. It was fantastic to see him added as a last minute performer, especially as he had to cancel his previous planned gig at Manchester Academy due to the pandemic. Banging poetry and top class banter followed with a hard hitting set that drew laughs and gasps aplenty. 

It was back to Off the Square next for Liverpool based band Rats who have a lot to be excited about having  just been announced as support for Liam Gallagher at The Royal Albert Hall later this month. The venue was packed, and they have built up a massive following in the city. Their latest release ‘Jenny’ will be out on the 24th March. 

The last venue of the night for me was the fabulous Rose and Monkey. Sprits were high by this point and the venue was buzzing for SInclair, but before that could happen, Leon the Pig Farmer made an impromptu appearance to introduce the band, and deliver some more stellar spoken word. Sinclair Formed in 2020, this five piece Manchester band draw influences from The Doors, The Clash and Joy division to name a few. The spacious stage was ideal for them to bounce about and get an already enigmatic crowd whipped up into a frenzy. 

A huge well done to all involved on the day, Benji and team pulled off an amazing feat and have already started planning YANA 2023, and I for one cannot bloody wait! 

Words and Pics 👉 Helen Millington