The snow and sleet has abandoned Manchester’s city streets to be replaced by a thick fog. A creepy walk down Oxford Road to the Academy is eased by the thought of the upcoming performance from Hudson Taylor. The Irish sibling duo have been working their way up the UK’s music scene and tonight play to 900 people in Manchester’s Academy 2. They’ve got here through incessant touring, and gaining support slots with Jake Bugg, Kodaline, The Script and even at The Rolling Stones’ Hyde Park gig. Tonight is totally sold out, while the room seems to be a fairly equal split between young girls and older couples from front to back.
Hardly surprising, the heart wants what the heart wants and these hearts wants some modern folk songs to sing along to. Hudson Taylor have pulled out all the stops for their biggest headline tour to date, cool onstage lighting and a full band – violin and all. They greet the crowd, “How’re you doing, Manchester?” to ear-splitting screams and tumultuous applause – the audience really seem captivated by these lads as they perform old songs and new tracks from their subtly plugged upcoming debut album, Singing For Strangers.
The lights go dark and there is some commotion and sudden screaming as Harry and Alfie step in front of the microphones to very front of stage centre. It takes a whole load of frustrated “shhhh”s to shut the crowd up for an “intimate” off the mic acoustic track. Their sweet harmonies are like honey for my ears, although there might actually have been honey on the floor – I can hear people’s sticky shoes so loud. Despite the boys’ excellent vocal projection and skill, performing without a PA system in such a large room full of drunk Manchester punters just can’t be executed particularly well. It’s unfortunate.
Acoustic bands live can often be repetitive and occasionally dull, but Hudson Taylor had no intention of this being the case. The gig is a series of pleasant surprises such as ‘Stranger’ – a fun, fast and riffing bluesy track – suddenly becoming a full and heavy electric cover of ‘Back In Black’. And to top that, even Gabrielle Aplin joined the stage for a song. ‘Butterflies’ and ‘Chasing Rubies’ receive an incredible reaction from the entire crowd, every person seems to know every word. Their lyrics are simple yet perfectly relatable, whoever you are or wherever you’re from. Hudson Taylor’s current take on folk music with hints of blues and country is universally agreeable, excellent song-writing and their sibling chemistry makes for a perfect musical partnership.