Gig review: Ellen & The Escapades @ The Castle Hotel, Manchester

‘I can feel my hair getting curly’ says the softly-spoken voice from the stage, and she isn’t the only one thinking that.

The back room at The Castle Hotel is an intimate space at the best of times, and with a sold out show for Ellen & The Escapades, it is transformed into a pressure cooker.

Luckily, Ellen & The Escapades are a band up to the task of keeping the packed, stuffy room entertained.

The band released the pledge funded album All The Crooked Scenes in 2012 and have since made appearances at Reading & Leeds, Glastonbury and Green Man Festival.

They’ve been quietly and steadily building a sizable following over the last two years and there is definitely a buzz of excitement about tonight.

Playing a mix of haunting Americana and up-tempo folk, the band’s effortless chemistry is easy to see from the start.

The performance is the band’s first live show since August 2013 and their enthusiasm is clearly evident. It’s refreshing to see a band enjoying themselves on stage, and it’s always something an audience responds to.

Throughout the show, the sound is kept fresh and genres are subtly spliced. Harmonicas and slide guitar add extra depth as the band get quickly into their stride.

Driven by a Johnny Cash style freight train rhythm, the title track from the album All The Crooked Scenes is the perfect vehicle for Ellen’s vocal.

She displays elements of both Shawn Colvin and Gillian Welch, fragile and delicate one minute, powerful and urgent the next.

The time between live shows has certainly not been wasted and a number of new tracks are aired during the night.

The Sea is a particular highlight, opening with gentle ambient drum beats and rising and flowing like the ocean itself to a captivating chorus.

It is a significant side step from the rest of the set and displayed that Ellen & The Escapades are still growing and evolving.

In an uncomfortably humid atmosphere, Ellen & The Escapades are able to engage the audience, have fun and leave everyone wanting more.

They already have a loyal following and the new material was exciting enough to promise big things ahead.

The next time they come to Manchester, they are likely to be playing to a much larger (and hopefully better ventilated) audience.

Image courtesy of bsidemusicvideos, via YouTube, with thanks.

Related Articles