Rosalie Cunningham – Night & Day Cafe, Manchester: Live Review

Rosalie Cunningham, Farfisa – Night & Day Cafe, Manchester – 10th September 2023

As the saying goes, ‘last seen on the ATB pages‘ after her appearance at the 2022 Cropredy Festival. It was one of the first few performances with her fledging new (bar Rosco Wilson) band and showcasing the latest album, Two Piece Puzzle. Now thoroughly embedded to the extent that we’re even thinking about album #3 and the further adventures of Donovan Ellington, the Sunday evening faithful are treated to a psychedelically flavored thrill ride through her solo work with a nod to the not so long ago days of Purson.

Where else to start but with the corners, as the band tunes and riffs its way into the bright overture that even ends with a big ‘dah – dah!’ It paves the way for a set that’s a colourful trip down the rabbit hole and packed with encounters with a clutch of carnival march cum classic rock musical showpieces.

Dethroning Of The Party Queen is an early highlight; swathed in drama and a magic mix of Madness and Lucifer via Sgt Pepper’s Band. Perhaps the track to play to someone who’s never heard of Rosalie Cunningham. It’s the start of section that combines the playful with what might lie around the next dark corner before the intensity of Riddles And Games where imaginary wibbly wobbly groovy visuals transport us back to the early Seventies. Despite the break in the seasonally warm weather, it’s hot and sweaty enough in the N&D to have Rosco’s cool shades slipping off his nose and to the floor in a particularly frenzied bout of soloing.

With Claudia picking up the flute and Rosalie donning the acoustic guitar, the textures take a shift as swirling ethnic vibes float over. The flute inevitably conjures up visions of Tull, but we’re more aware that any nearby snakes may be charmed by the flowing dance it leads, particularly in the mid section when the intensity picks up. The opportunity for some hair to be let down and shaken thoroughly is embraced and there are times when you fear for the heathe and safety as the keyboard stand seems to develop a mind of its own as it rocks precariously. Tristitia Amnesia’s swirling Eastern flavours maintain the vibe as the hypnotic verses twist and turn before hitting the sweet spot of the chorus.

There’s a teaser of something new with Rabbit Foot – a real belter that sees the band swinging through Country Blues Rock complete with plenty ooh-ooh-ing that gives way briefly to a heavy rock venting of the spleen midway. Never too far from a Zep-esque reminder of the Cunningham roots. An indication that the next project is going to be no less than an mouthwatering endeavour under Rosalie’s own critical eye and sense of perfection.

We’re allowed “a boogie” with the final of Chocolate Money – one that might by some be classed as the crowd pleasing oldie, but it’s clearly a blast for the band to play and indulge in a last bout of shape throwing with the roaring Hammond sound roars as a backdrop. No doubt about where the party queen of old and her bands roots and passions lie , yet their contemporary take on those is an electrifying spectacle to be relished.

Rosalie Cunningham online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Youtube

A short opening set from local band Farfisa (“but we don’t have a Farfisa”) was an eyebrow-raising aperitif. The ‘wavy, fuzzy, psychedelic three piece’ impressed enough with a half hour set to certainly warrant further investigation (new album in the pipeline…) and reinforce our constant ‘always see the support band’ mantra.

With a rhythm section sporting a uniform look of glasses, caps and stubble, the holy musical trinity of guitar, bass and drums was embellished by some electronic whizzes and bleeps, coaxed out to add to the sonic palette. Sunrise offered a dreamy and spacious alternative to the funky Talking Heads-esque qualities of a new song that’s headed for a forthcoming album release. Frontman / singer / spokesperson Lucian Thomas seemingly coped effortlessly with a broken string as the set came to a conclusion with a frenzy on Space Race, why have six strings when you can do it with five!?

Head straight to their online offerings for a flavour….

Farfisa online: Facebook / Bandcamp / Soundcloud / Instagram

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2 replies »

  1. We were there, in fact I think I spoke to you outside waiting to go in. A great gig indeed, tho probably cut short because of venue curfew. Real music isn’t dead yet !

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