Updated: Sunday, 20th April 2014 @ 5:36am

Review: Janice Graham Band headline HMV Ritz The Next Big Thing – February 3

Review: Janice Graham Band headline HMV Ritz The Next Big Thing – February 3

By Claire Skegg

Headlining 'The Next Big Thing', the Janice Graham Band were well and truly thrust under the spotlight when they performed at the HMV Ritz last Friday.

If expectation wasn't already high enough for the Manchester outfit, a recent array of critical acclaim for their forth coming album 'It's Not Me', including already being dubbed a strong contender for Manchester music 2012's debut of the year, added to the buzz of aniticipation in the air.

The Narrowers and The Sundowners were the night's two quirky support acts, warming up the venue with electro-indie followed by a mix of woody folk and classic 70's tracks.

The sudden crush of a bustling crowd indicated it was nearly time for the Janice Graham Band, who were signed to independent label Acid Jazz last year. 

The four lads from south Manchester eagerly kicked off with profound track 'Where Were You'.

Lead singer Joe Jones casually described how the band's audiences seem to be getting bigger, scratching his head and somewhat awed, before announcing next track No Money Honey, as dummer Tom Scott, guitarist Andy Morton and trumpet player Josh Hunt burst to action.

A favourite of long-term Janice Graham band fans, the track was originally self-financed by the group last year and rapidly sold out online.

Opening carnival fanfair from talented trumpeter Hunt, now so distinctive of the band, continued the party with songs Taxman and Robbery.  

Up-tempo sounds with hard hitting lyrics make this band hard to ignore and their resistance to sitting on the fence when it comes to expressing political opinions through their music has won them respect from fans of all ages.

Slowing things down (a touch) with Can't Shake it Off it was clear to see four friends embracing and enjoying what was a landmark performance for them. No laid back cool for these musician, I'm sure before long we'll all be bursting out into monkey noise, wanting to be part of their gang.

The heavy ska-reggea-pop beats of Murder and Shuffle resonated round the open-plan gig venue next, adding a modern egde to what is unmistakable 80's music nostalgia. The quartet have been likened no end to The Specials and newly reformed Happy Mondays, which is far from an insult.

A perfect encore of Sass kept the audience sweet as the on going big band sounds teasingly brought the gig to a close.

Janice Graham Band's album It's Not Me is out on February 27. For info visit www.janicegrahamband.com