2018 was a year of essential foundation work in both the Concrete HQ and Shaking Chains camps. At HQ we’ve realised the days of the ‘360’ model to enable a healthy record label are over, you now need to be 360 and 4 Dimensional. This is a realisation that has excited us and we are in progress making this realisation happen. The timing has been great as the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has realised the importance of music in Manchester’s DNA and is keen to make sure it is not lost permanently as offices and flats continue to reduce the creative industry space available in our Victorian mills and warehouses.
Meanwhile Shaking Chains have been working hard in the studio with the Manchester music force that is Jim Noir, fingers crossed we’ll be releasing the proceeds of this work in 2019.
2017 was a year of ups and downs for Concrete's first venue Kro Old Trafford. We reached the heady heights of the BBC, featuring in The Premier League show with Stretford Band Prose. Sadly our first and favourite customer Joe Purcell passed away, RIP. We used up all our TENs notices and had our full license application turned down leading to the temporary closure of the bar. We'll be back though, under the name Joe's Bar.
On the music front we were delighted to finally release the immense talent of Frazer King in their current guise Shaking Chains. Sold out single launch gigs, James tour support, huge support from John Kennedy and a world first in their Midnight Oil video which went on to be copied by MUSE no less.
A mention has to be made re Nathan from Shaking Chains possibly taking John Kennedy's Tooting live night Xposure's title too far, apparently the first man/woman to strip naked on the stage! Well done Nathan and also John for taking it all in the best possible taste.
Orphan Boy were delighted to contribute their Some Frontier single to Broughton House to use to lead their fundraising campaign for improvements to their facilities. Broughton House Care Home for Ex-Service Men and Women is a charity registered in England and Wales. We were special guests at their 100 year anniversary dinner, an amazing experience.
The year drew to an end with Shaking Chains back in the studio recording with one of Manchester's key music talents. the battle will continue in 2018.
A slow start to the year. Much thinking going on in the Concrete/Orphan camps. Jellyfish bobbing around the seven seas, how shall the quest continue?
A conclusion is reached in May, while the Mariners travel down to Wembley to the Orphan Boy 'Black and White (For You)' GTFC Anthem the search for the Concrete owned 'space' begins.
This great apparition of the future coincides with Concrete entering into talks with the greatest undocumented talents of the last 10 years of Manchester/UK/World music history. Will they this time succumb.... Yes they have, Shaking Chains are now recording to release their first single with Concrete early 2017.
Orphan Boy are given the ultimate seal of approval by The Enemy, they ask them to play main support at their last gig ever in their hometown venue The Empire, Coventry. What a night that was.
Kro Old Trafford opens 11th December '16 for the UTD v Spurs game. Manchester band and big reds Prose play the opening. The Concrete Space is born.
We're fully back in action. The Orphan Boy album 'Coastal Tones' was ready for release. Self recorded, artwork by Grimbarian Steve Cummings. The campaign began in March with the release of lead single 'Beats Like Distant Tides' which got good John Kennedy XFM, Steve Lamacq 6music, Jim Gellatly & Shell Zenner Amazing Radio and Janice Long BBC Radio 2 support, we're back in the game:-) The campaign continues.
We Are Jellyfish play gigs and record demos.
Orphan Boy are asked by Grimsby Town F.C. to write them a new anthem, they deliver with 'Black And White (For You)' and we release for 1 month with all income to be donated to the GTFC Youth Team.
We are asked by 'Crooked Teeth' if we will take them under the Concrete wing, we say yes with pleasure..
Orphan Boy gig far and wide and their 3rd album is given a **** Q Album Review
So, the fight continues. The quest? Documenting music we believe in in the annals of history. Rick Hincks & Keef Finnegan remain onboard.
I go to my last day's work in HK dressed in me fav footie kit, climb my last mountain then we return to Blighty. The Orphan Boy album is nearly finished, we brace ourselves for the battle ahead.
We see We Are Jellyfish live, we love em, they ask us to take them under our wing, we say yes with pleasure. (They take Halloween seriously on stage in The Roadhouse)
Orphan Boy support The Enemy and continue to gig far and wide, people travel from as far as Russia to watch their home town Xmas gig
I nip back to Angleterre to see the Orphans in their new Grimsby Dock knackered old warehouse/coldest place in England rehearsal room in Jan
Orphan Boy gig far and wide & support Babyshambles
Did the 78k multi mountain Wilson Trail Charity Hike. HK hiking rules.
Continued to work hard on one of the most significant civil engineering jobs on the planet
Saw the nicest person in the music industry, Chris Snow, doing sound for The Cribs in HK, The Cribs were immense, the sound was perfect.
Gave Chris tour of site and he was lucky to attend a 'Baisin,' offering of cooked meats to the Gods to protect the workforce. Introduced him to Johnny Chow, ex bass player for Allen Tam, the Cantonese Tom Jones. Johnny made a good point, for two years in the music industry he could work 24/7 and earn HK$0, in construction, he fixes 1m2 of formwork and he gets paid HK$30.
Har Mar Superstar got grumpy with the sound at Clockenflap HK Festival
Orphan Boy get back together after Tom from The Enemy announces his love for them on Twitter and he gave them a support slot at the Manchester Academy.
Ronnie Lee joins the team
I join 810A, one of the most significant civil engineering jobs on the planet, quite possibly the trickiest.
Nipped over to Fuji Rock to see the mighty Heartbreaks and Swiss Lips in action meeting up with Concrete stalwart Rick Hincks
Hiking becomes a big part of life in HK, meet some interesting creatures out there
Did the HK 100k multi mountain Maclehose Trail charity hike, feet nearly had to be removed. Full team finished
The frustrations of the Passion, Pain & Loyalty campaign lead Orphan Boy to return to Cleethorpes and Mr & Mrs Concrete to go and work themselves to death in Hong Kong. The 24/7 working life of the Far East is a better way of relieving the frustration of the mmusic industry even than the Orphan Boy punch bag.
John Kennedy XFM is the morning walk to work soundtrack in life 7/8 hours ahead in HK:-)
Fuji Rock is relatively near, WU LYF prove more than worth the trip. What a f**king band.
Mike Concrete meets the Elbow boys in their hotel in HK when his mate interviews him for a magazine, what wonderful gents they are.
The Orphans tell me they're splitting up, I release their demo 'All Romance Will Fail' which has been used for a couple of indie movies and put a picture of the dude who got me my job in HK Marco on the cover, he was on his stag do when it was taken.
Orphan Boy play their last gig of phase 1 at The Beachcomber in Meggies. It's chaos apparently, stage invasion after ever song.
Courted and gathered the PR team for Orphan Boy album 2, 'Passion, Pain & Loyalty'
We return to Glasto as punters, on the drive home John Kennedy is playing 'Popsong.'
Orphan Boy play gigs far and wide.
David Barnes made two brilliant videos for the 'Popsong' and 'Some Frontier' singles from PPL. The Some Frontier was done in association with the wounded troops charities BLESMA and Broughton House in Salford, was an honour.
Saw Bo Burnham at the Edinburgh Festival, comedy genius.
The album is critically well received and gets good specialist airplay but the day jobs continue.
We all went to the Libertines reformation gig in Kentish Town round the corner from the great up and coming band venue The Bull & Gate
The year of the last ever Tony Wilson invented 'In The City,' was a great event at wonderful place to learn the full horror of the business. Bizarrely we met a Justin Sweeting at the event who went on to become a v successful promoter in Hong Kong, Clockenflap being one of his many great works. Sarah Concrete enjoyed a drink with Durutti Column drummer and long time supplier of lighting to our live nights and most of Manchester's... Mr Bruce Mitchel at the closing event
We release Jake's first single CONC012 'Small World.'
Got the phone call from Glasto to say there would be no 'Late 'n' Live' anymore, we were v sad:-(
We put on 'The Harvest' festival in Shrophire with Hobsons brewery, (their beer is phenomenal) and our artist Jake Flowers (also phenomenal)
One time chief Orphanites Seaside Riot become one of music's hottest properties The Heartbreaks
Daz Tacheless over in Scunthorpe knows a good band when he hears one and puts them on at his nights which are always good.
Mr & Mrs Concrete go to Midem, Michael Eavis is there, we have a great tour of the local establishments with Muggers & Snaf Travelling Band, the band perform an amazing set:-) We watch David Martel from Canada live, want to release him in the UK but are too committed to take him on:-(
Orphan Boy and The Deadbeats play Secret Garden Festival, a good time is has by all.
Jake plays many gigs and festies including the Wychwood Festival, v easy event to enjoy that one compared with the task of Glasto.
Manchester rapscalions Frazer King also play the Wychwood Festival, we watch Nathan moon the crowd at approx 12 noon then fall backwards off the stage, we're impressed, Tom Robinson who's booked em and the parents of kids in the audience less so.
Steve Lloyd records a live demo of Frazer King for us in The Roadhouse, it's very good indeed.
Crisis Management pull out of the Frazer King JV, Frazer King then pull out of the Concrete/FK JV:-(
Glastonbury Unsigned key lady Hilary has her 60th and invites the Concrete Late 'n' Live people and Glasto Unsigned stalwarts such as The Deadbeats & The Travelling Band
Concrete fav Glasgow band Nacional (Rob Nacional later forms Crooked Teeth) play Manchester's ITC
We release CONC009 Orphan Boy first album 'Shop Local' and final album single CONC010 Satellites
Orphans support Pete Doherty at Whitechapel's Rhythm Factory. One of long standing Orphan believer Spoon's Let Them Eat Gak nights. Pete was f**king amazing, as were the Orphans..... and Spoon.
Orphans play far and wide.
Sarah Concrete models for the online Concrete shop
We sign Jake Flowers, an amazing solo artist from the folk side of the musical garden. He plays various festivals including Summer Sundae and Kerrang Festival in Brum.
We record Jake's first single CONC012 'Small World' with the wonderful Gavin Monaghan at Magic Garden in Wolves
We do the Glastonbury Late & Live stage again, horsebox is on duty but this years version has a hole the roof. Key Late & Live team members Rick Hincks, Jay Ellis & Mike Higson are on load in/out run venue duty with us. Tiz amazing again. Kro do the food again. Sound Engineers and VJs are back too and v happy with the addition of the settee behind the desks. Long live Late 'n'Live.
We do 'That Manchester 2' at Cheetham Hill Irish Club. This time with Channel M onboard to promote, film and show the night. The KBC headline, Orphan Boy play plus many others. Special guests 'Love Minus Zero' come up from London, great band, 2 sons of Pete Peret Only Ones are in em, they used to be in Babyshambles.
We release CONC011 Orphan Boy 'Stilettos.'
Frazer King, Frazer King, Frazer King. We form a JV with Crisis Management and take them on.
Jarvis Cocker is one of the highlights of Tony Wilson's Manchester ITC Conference when he analyses hit records, my fav was the drummer shouting out 'f**k' when he misses a beat on 'The Kingsmen' recording of 'Louie Louie'
Mike Concrete invests in an Orphan Boy punch bag for his music industry contemplation sessions
We start releasing singles from forthcoming Orphan Boy's first album starting with CONC007 Postcode then CONC008 Alderley edge. Zane loves Alderley Edge, Orphans gig far and wide
We do our Glastonbury Festival 'Late 'n' Live stage again. This time we get Kro on board to run a cafe in the venue, tiz v good. We have the genius idea of hiring an old horse box to take the PA, lighting, etc down and live in after the Concrete HQ Tent and everything inside getting ruined in flood damage at the previous event.
Orphans continue to rehearse in the Bovril Rooms as the building continues to disintegrate.
We start monthly live nights at Night & Day and Kro Bar.
We release 2005 Glastonbury Unsigned winners and close friends from the Manchester scene 'The Deadbeats' first single 'Backdoor Honey.' A great video was shot incorporating such gems as van demolition by Pat McGuinness Demolition.
It's a 'Fallow Year' for Glastonbury Festival so we concentrate on signing a band.
We sign Orphan Boy. We release 'Trophies of Love,' Steve Lamacq and John Kennedy love it.
We put 'That Manchester' on at Cheetham Hill Irish Club. We get Manchester Fairgrounds onboard to put rides and stalls on, the rides get axed at the last minute because of a grumpy neighbour. The day/night is brilliant. From memory it was the first time Liam Fray played with his full band line up which would become The Courteeners. The Longcut headline, all is good.
Orphan Boy rehearse in the self name 'Bovril Rooms' in Manchester
Orphan Boy gig far and wide.
Orphan Boy play Akoustik Anarchy Xmas do at The Gardens Hotel, those aA nights were as good as live music gets.
Noisebox Studio in Bradford, Manchester becomes our fav studio. Owned by the late great Steve Lloyd, RIP, his protege Chris Snow becomes an Orphan Boy recording veteran.
In Jan we see the unsigned Arctic Monkeys at Night & Day in Manchester, then in some basement in Wigan a few days later, we ask if we can release their first single, very soon everyone else asks and they righfully become huuuugggeeeee.
We release the 'Glastonbury Unsigned Bands 2005' album. This years benefiting charity is Shelter. Good friends 'The Deadbeats' win the live Pilton Working Men's Club live final competition. The soon to be mighty but embrionic at this stage 'Scouting For Girls' are among the finalists, (Mike Concrete got their demo through the letter box, the track 'Keep on Walking' blew him away and he entered them for the competion). We put a launch night on for the album in Night & Day, Manchester.
Dick Vernon from the Glasto Office rings us up and asks if we'll run an unsigned venue at this years festival, we say yes and smile from ear to ear. We run the stage in conjunction with Oxfam 'Control Arms' team. We call it the 'Late 'n' Live Stage' in honour to the Edinburgh Festival comedy/music night of madness, a particular fav of Mike & Sarah Concrete. We invite Manchester Music essentials Blowout, aA and High Voltage to join the team. We put Dirty Circus from Wigan on, we plan to sign em.
Dirty Circus start rehearsing at Mike Concrete's day job HQ.
We start putting live nights on in Manchester so we can watch the bands that are sounding interested on demos through the letter box all in one convenient place, First night we do is at Kro Bar on Oxford Road with Dirty Circus headlining.
Dirty Circus are for some reason slow to sign, rehearsals at Mike's HQ continue...... they then tell him they've signed for Mike Pickering at Sony. They're the darlings of this years Tony Wilson ITC Conference,we're v sad:-(
We see Orphan Boy playing at a High Voltage night in December at The Music Box, we like them
We put a New Years Eve live/DJ night on at Kro Bar, it's brilliant, Smiffy Orphan appeared with Liam Pedestrian
A few strange events lead to the setting up of a record label including
Realising the asphalt roofing contractors I've worked with for years are Jack & Ivor Abadi, once owners of the Twisted Wheel, one of music's most important creative hubs, the birthplace of Northern Soul
Blown away by the unsigned Nylon Pylon.
Blown away by Menlo Park, amazing unsigned band we see at the Tony Wilson 'In The City' music conference in Manchester in 2003. The band features talent such as Seb Rochford and Harper Simon.
Blown away by Manchester unsigned nights such as Blowout and Akoustik Anarchy
Blown away repeatedly by Liverpool band The Maybes
Get knocked out of the FA Cup by United after we've come back from 3-0 down at half time with 10 men in the previous round away to Spurs. I follow the cup exit by walking back home and watching The Wall..... the next day I set up the label
We see an article in the paper about Glastonbury Festival holding an Unsigned Bands competition to give places at the Festie to such bands. We write to them on pen and paper and dispatch the correspondence in an envelope with a stamp asking if we can come to the finals to watch their 24 selected bands from over 2000 entrants (might have been over 4000), they say yes:-)
We ask at the finals at Pilton Working Men's Club if we can release an album of the finalists with 50% profits to a charity of their choice and 50% to the bands. They say yes and give us spot at the festie to sell the albums from. The chosen charity was FAIRTRADE. Keef Finnegan does amazing artwork and becomes the Concrete art master. His mate Rick Hincks soon takes the reigns from John Purcell as Concrete webmaster.
The Subways and Blackbud are co-winners, we release CONC001 Glastonbury Unsigned Bands 2004, John Peel plays tracks off it and comes to our stall and buys copies on BBC2, we sell 1500 copies:-) A Mr Roy Stride also came to the stall, bought a copy and asked how you get in the competition.....
We work with Manchester Studio 'Spirit School of Sound' and release '10 From 10' an album featuring 10 unsigned Manchester bands singing 10 Manchester classics. John Squire does the cover artwork. Some of the artists become 'Cherry Ghost,' 'Swiss Lips' and 'The Joy Formidable.' Also Hooky's in there playing bass for Salford band Hanky Park. We do a v good launch night at The Mint Lounge, all is well.
The Obsession become our new favourite band.