Ron Pope + The Nighthawks - Manchester Academy 3 16.01.2016
As I arrive to tonights show the snow is just starting to come down and as my pass grants me early access to doors, I jump on that oppurtunity to get inside and stay warm.
Incidently I find myself walking into Ron Pope's meet and greet session with some of his fans. So I just merge with the huddled crowd and take it all in. Instantly I can tell that Pope understands his success and rise to stardom rests on the shoulders of his fans. You see he doesn't have a record label backing. He has independently written and produced 4 full length albums. His music now heard worldwide. That kind of self made success could go to an individuals head. But as we stand here I know that's not the case. Pope is incredibly humble. With the recounting of stories and influcences in his life and music to the posed pictures with his fans. I'm left feeling a sense of admiration for an artist that I hadn't heard of until my application for tonights pass was granted.
So on with the first act of the night. Truett a Blues and Rock musician from Georgia instantly hits. His intricate riffs and strong blue tones resonate around the Academy. Though I predominantly photograph rock and metal shows, I've always been fasinated by the way Blues musicians emote while on stage. There is something far more interesting about the expressions pulled and movement in there wrists as they play. And Truett projects these manorisms ten fold. I can feel every note. Add the fact he also he has a very soulful bluesy voice and I'm left wishing his set lasted for a lot longer than 20 minutes. As I could quite comfortably listen to him play all night.
Next we have Zach Beckman, an at first unassuming indivdual standing there with his acoustic. Then he starts to sing and I'm blown away. Beckmans range in his vocals makes the hair on my arms stand. And a point worth making is he is incredibly funny. Constantly engaging with his audience he has the room in laughter in between soons. But his jokes don't distract you from the fact he plays an incredibly strong half hour set that includes songs new and old. Even with an impromtu fire alarm going off mid song, not a beat is missed.
I'm hooked, as is the full room behind me.
Far to often support acts are overlooked by most, as we all just want to see the main person we've paid to see. But not here and not tonight. Both supports have been amazing.
Which leads me into Ron Pope. As his accompanying band the Nighthawks prep their instruments on stage, a bottle of Jamesons is passed around. They laugh and joke amongst themselves. As you would imagine friends do before a jamming session. Somthing that I've always associated Blues shows as. One giant jamming session that you're welcome to attend. As the anticpation in the room is clearly reaching boiling point Pope walks onto the stage and the room erupts.
Having already had an insight into the man himself I was interested to see him in action. And not really being sure what to expect, what follows next is gold. For a man that has paved his own path into the music industry, you are able to understand exactly how and why this was possible. This man is incredibly talented. Playing to a rammed room you can see him feeding off its energy. For the entire set I am transfixed. From guitar to piano to accordion the set is done in the blink of an eye.
Going in tonight I had no idea who any of the acts were. I leave with every intention of downloading their collective works.
Zach Berkman - https://www.facebook.com/zachberkmanmusic/?fref=ts
Photography - Friswell Photography