It’s a busy day at Manchester’s Ritz, starting at 4pm both the venue’s ballroom and basement have been occupied by some of the best upcoming music including TOPS, Childhood, Froth and Bill Ryder-Jones to name a few. The Sunday Session is underway.
Entering the venue significantly later than 4pm, we head downstairs to the cramped basement of this large venue to catch Australian trio The Goon Sax. A bit late to the stage and then with a guitar breaking during the first track, ‘Sweaty Hands’ manages to pull through its accidental drum and bass version to the end to which the audience greatly applauds the band’s commitment to not stopping. However, as the set continues, it becomes clear that the sound issues are coming from the back of the room and not in the three talented musicians on stage. Unsolicited buzz and a dodgy mix did not bring out the best in The Goon Sax unfortunately, sincerely hoping the rest of this room who has never witnessed the band live before are not judging them solely on this performance. Set closer ‘Boyfriend’ manages to shine out through the murk of the mix, it’s boppy rhythms and unmissable melody sticking in your head as a final joyous memory.
For the last set of the day we head upstairs to the Ritz’s main ballroom, the wooden dancefloor and balcony above are already busy with cheerful friends and pints galore awaiting the headline act. The clock strikes 9:15 and Whitney enter to tumultuous applause. “Hey, we’re Whitney and this is Dave’s Song” Julien Ehrlich smiles, diving straight in “I know you can’t help me now and sometimes people change”, his gorgeous vocal silkily flowing like a magical spirit lighting up every face in the room. After more woops and cheers, the crowd is briefly silent as Ehrlich offers his condolences about the city’s recent terror attack “of course it’s the One Love concert tonight too, we’ve been thinking about you guys a lot” to which we all cheer and clap in agreement and thanks.
The good vibes are insurmountable, the tasty guitar lines of ‘No Matter Where We Go’ into the smooth trumpet tone of ‘Red Moon’ is a delight. Special guest Aldous RH takes also takes the stage during this instrumental, Max Kakacek hands over his guitar to the Manchester based musician, putting his own spin on the track making its lack of words is irrelevant. The tipsy crowd springs into action as the rocky rhythm of ‘Golden Days’ starts up, Ehrlich and Kakacek look across at each other and back down at the swaying bodies, everyone undoubtedly over the moon at their current situation.
“We’re gonna go off and then do more songs” Ehrlich announces after gorgeous renditions of ‘Light Upon The Lake’ and ‘Follow’. A new song about “partying too hard in the summertime” goes down a treat before the final moment of the night. We all know what it’s going to be but I did not expect the intense crowd reaction to Whitney’s most well-known track ‘No Woman’. A slow and delicate but undeniably uplifting track usually sees crowds sway and smile, but not today. The ecstatic Mancunians shout and jump around, arms waving erratically or around their companions – intent on showing Whitney what a wonderful time they’ve had. And why shouldn’t they, a wonderful time was had.