The first night of the 2018 Salford music festival was held at the local venue Walk The Plank on Friday evening. Although the location may have seemed unusual at first, amongst a maze of industrial buildings- this underrated gem was perfect for the occasion. With a small performance hall and a charming outdoor courtyard, a casual and friendly atmosphere made extremely well for the night of music. The small crowd that gathered at the venue made for an intimate and casual evening catered by a local Salford brewery.
The night opened with a video tribute to the co-founder of the festival Mark. E Smith who sadly passed away last January, which consisted of a montage of friends retelling stories of his life and times. This included a snippet of Smith onstage with the Gorillaz at Glastonbury with a collaborative performance of ‘Glitter Freeze’, as well as numerous tracks he had recorded and filmed.
Amongst the many statements made about Smith during the tribute was that he had always epitomised what punk was; “Not an image, but an attitude.” The heartfelt video was hosted by fellow founder and The Fall band mate Ed Blaney- who stated that the festival (which is now in its tenth year) was “not about money, but opening doors for new acts.”
The first of the 3 acoustic acts was James Holt, who performed a series of original songs- including tracks from his EP ‘Whispers’. With a chatty and friendly demeanor- the singer performed confidently and managed to get the audience to join in- “whoop!”. Holt also managed to stay extremely professional throughout a technical issue of a backdrop that occurred and even managed to laugh it off- whilst performing his set flawlessly. His phenomenal stage presence gave off definite nods to Jake Bugg, yet he expressed his own definite sense of identity. A story of the original song ‘Come out to Play’ was also most enjoyed by the audience – members joining in and laughing along with the performer.
The second act of the night was Molly, a two piece act consisting of Molly herself- as well as a male accomplice on bass. The duo performed a mix of original songs and acoustic covers such as Queen’s ‘Under Pressure’. Although the act did not give off the same level of confidence in which Holt did- their flawless vocals and instruments made up for it in every sense. Anyone could tell that the duo were extremely comfortable with each other, smiling and chatting to one another between songs. This made the performance feel friendly and casual, setting a perfect tone for the Salford Music Festival’s relaxed atmosphere.
The third and final acoustic act of the night was male performer Danny Donnely. Donnely additionally performed a series of both original and cover tracks- including Candi Staton’s ‘You Got the Love’.
Although at the start of his set, he stated; “It’s been a long time!”, the vocals and guitar would never have given any impression that the artist had ever taken a break from music. Donnely showed a friendly relationship with the founders and audience members- explaining that a number of the originals performed was by a friend in the audience by the name of Tony. He also gave the audience an opportunity for any potential requests- with an amusing quip of; “Does anyone have any requests apart from get off?”.
The opening acoustic set of the festival set off a fantastic vibe for the rest of the night from all three respective acts- with a series of original music which managed to express what Blaney and Smith intended for the Salford Music Festival within the first hour. Raw, original and new talent.