Night & Day Café holds host to a variety of bands, showcases, DJs and artists, hailing from all over the world. A vital venue and statement in Manchester’s extended music scene, the trendy bar draped in fairy lights, vintage gig posters and a red backdrop reminiscent of a seductive cabaret venue, could just about fit 200 at a push. Bands can play to a packed out crowd as bodies stand shoulder to shoulder, dancing the night away or to an intimate audience that hangs onto every word, every chord. A plethora of fantastic and reknowned musicians have graced the miniature stage in the famous venue, and on this night, the southern Americana band Treetop Flyers were taking to the stage. Kicking off their UK tour in Brighton a few nights earlier, the Manchester gig was their second date, and momentum was still building for the band. As the bar slowly started to fill up, the age range showed variety as both young and old came in from the cold. The accessibility and likeability is undeniable to the bands success if they can create excitement across a wide age spectrum, and before they even took to the stage their state of longevity was finalised.
Supporting the band was solo artist Marvin Powell, a young folk singer songwriter who commanded the room with his Simon & Garfunkel inspired lyrics. With a voice like that of Passenger, his alternative tunings and fingerpicked melodies presented an open and nostalgic sound, as the room turned to hushed whispers. Opening with his singles ‘Feast’ and ‘Enigma Girl’, Powell’s vocal range sits comfortably in the higher register, as he cooed beautiful melodic lines with integrity. Ironically enough his stage presence outside of his songs was awkward and self-conscious; unaided by minor technical difficulties with his guitar. But as soon as he returned to his music it was clear his records would follow that of Kurt Vile; the perfect album for the summer-autumn transition in later months.
Taking to the stage almost immediately after the prior set, the headline act Treetop Flyers opened into their first spellbinding song of the set ‘Sleepless Nights’; the new album opener made up of a three guitar part harmonies. The thought process for their songs was blatantly genius from the first to their last. The five piece led by four guitars moved through sublime phrasings, youthful vocals with a perfectly crafted spatial awareness of their songs. Remarkably, leading vocalist, Reid Morrison’s inapprehensive stage presence contrasts to his astounding talent as a singer. Leading into ’31 Years’ and ‘Things Will Change’ he commands the room with his powerfully emotive vocals, channelling a youthful Ray LaMontagne. His voice had fierce competition from the multi talented keys/guitar player, who led ‘Lady Luck’, with equal velocity and passion, creating a raw resonant energy that seeped out of the venue and into the streets of the quiet city.
The setlist entailed seven years worth of material, and three records, but the consistency of beautiful phrasings, tight harmonies and a true country/folk spirit, became all the more impressive after remembering that Treetop Flyers came from a city renowned for its grime scene over country and folk. But before anyone could jump to a pigeonhole conclusion, the ensemble led into a number of excellently varied and though out stylistic renditions. ‘Dancing through the Night’ presented an amazing six-minute keys solo, heavily inspired by the likes of psychedelia and The Doors. Next was ‘Things Will Change’, with angelic harmonies from the entire band, similar to Rudimental. Throw in a couple of Maggot Brain-esque guitar solos and the southerners covered everything from country, to funk, to synth pop.
As the night came to an end, the humbled musicians stepped off to rapturous applause, as every member of the small crowd stood to their feet
To call this band versatile with respects to their multi-instrumental talents, and variety of homages would be an incredible understatement. With more substance than the vast majority of bands that take a liking to Americana, the Treetop Flyers are sure to be a staple fixture for the future country festivals of the world.
This Treetop Flyers article was written by John Gittins, a GIGsoup contributor. Lead photo by thatpunkrockkid_