Charlotte Smith headed down to Manchesters Fallow Cafe to experience the stunningly beautiful Meadowlark encapsulate an audience with their heavenly sound. With support from O>L>A.
Author: Charlotte Smith
Salford to Fallowfield – it’s not an easy journey to make on a Friday night at rush hour but alas I arrive at Fallow Café just in time to see the second support act take to the stage before headliners Meadowlark.
One Little Atlas, possibly better known as O>L>A are a band I’m familiar with already after seeing them support a local band sometime last year so I knew what to expect when they stepped into the taped off section of the room I’d then identified as the stage. The duo, who are based in Manchester, are comfortable on stage, they give off a vibe that makes you feel like you’re stood in one of their bedrooms watching them jam. They are typically northern and interact well with crowd firstly asking who’s here to see the main act. A few muted cheers creep out of the crowd to which O>L>A respond with an accusational “fucking hell come on you aren’t all here to see us!” The crowd livens up as they wade into both old and new material, which leave the growing audience transfixed by the uplifting experimental percussion and vocals worthy of a church procession. The band finish their support slot with a huge ballad which is received well by the dispersing crowd (probably rushing off to get to the bar or toilet first), it climaxes and a huge thankful sigh is expressed. A swig of cheap wine later, O>L>A leave the stage and enter a crowd of old fans and definitely a few new ones.
I manage to wiggle my way towards the back of the attic space at Fallow Café and into the smoking area to reconvene with the photographer for this piece and quickly find myself rushing back inside in order to get a good spot for the headliners. There’s a definite buzz in the air, one that I didn’t expect as I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of Meadowlark until a few weeks ago when I was assigned the gig. I googled their name and two top results appeared; the band (thank god) and the bird. I had it in my mind that Meadowlark were sweet and tranquil, much like the bird suggested. I listened to a few of their tracks and it certainly felt that way. Their live shows, on the other hand, are far from tranquil.
The band open with recent release ‘Headlights’ and the electronic drum kit claims the tiny space around it. Kate McGill’s vocals are beautiful. They are innocent but full of emotion. Daniel Broadley is the quite opposite, he is animated and full of energy and the contrast works so incredibly well that you could almost forget where you are through pure captivation of what is happening on stage.
The band don’t say much, not until after their third track when McGill asks how the crowd are doing after noting their quietness. The crowd recognise this quietness but each member of that audience knows that this is not through lack of enthusiasm, more like complete awe. The fifth track of the set invites Broadley to address the crowd. He tells the story of ‘Quicksand’ and how the song was inspired by a Humans of New York post he had seen on Facebook. The words of the track emanate the stranger’s story of working in the Pakistani brick kilns and you can see the passion Broadley feels for the track through his facial expressions during the performance.
The next 10 minutes are filled with more upbeat tracks with the band playing ‘Sunlight’ and ‘Satellite’, both of which receive a big “WOO” from an overly manly man somewhere behind me. An acoustic version of ‘Postcards’ follows of which McGill claims as her favourite track off the forthcoming album and as an ode to an ex-lover. The crowd are deathly silent during this performance and as interesting as Broadley is to watch, his talent for playing a range of instruments and dancing whilst doing so, it is extremely difficult to focus on anything else other than McGill. The audience is completely lost in her voice.
The roller coaster set is brought to a close with an acoustic version of ‘Fly’ much to the crowd’s approval. Everyone seems to know this one and the band invite them to sing along to the chorus. The room is filled with varying tones all singing the hook over and over again. Complete elation can be seen on both of McGill and Broadley’s faces as a number of balloons aptly appear over the crowd. It’s super cheesy and I can’t work out whether it was done by the band or a fan but either way, it’s just enough cheese to be acceptable. “One more time Manchester” remarks McGill as the song and evening draws to a close. The crowd lap this up and the last chorus is louder than before and a huge round of applause begins to precede over the singing. By the looks of the crowd, Meadowlark killed it tonight in this tiny venue in the depths of Manchester’s studentville. They finish with a thank you, an invitation to buy merch and promising “we’ll see you again very soon”.