© September 2009 Manchester Evening News
ON paper, Manchester Versus Cancer is a ridiculously ambitious project – a one-day event with a whole pile of bands complicated by a strong determination to gain the world record for most guest appearances in one evening.
This year’s event, it turns out, has been the hardest sell so far, despite the inclusion of a number of bands on the bill who can fill the MEN Arena by themselves. These are tough economic times, but that only means the charity event needs the public’s support more than ever.
And yet, chief organiser and ex-Smiths bassist Andy Rourke has chosen this year to take on one of Versus Cancer’s most complicated pairings so far – that of Manchester band James with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.
Not everybody’s cup of tea, right enough. And it’s not a first for a Manchester band either – only this summer, Elbow paired up with the Halle to reinvent some of the Mercury-winning moments from The Seldom Seen Kid and their acclaimed back catalogue.
Their connection to James’s turn in front of an orchestra, though, is Joe Duddell – a local composer and the man who conducted the Halle for Elbow. His involvement alone means this will be an extraordinarily beautiful spectacle – and mark our words, it’s one you won’t see again.
“Jim (Glennie, bass) and Larry (Gott, guitar) have raved about this benefit gig since it started,” James frontman Tim Booth told CityLife, “but I have always been out of the country and unable to do it. “So finally, the three of us are playing with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, so we are buzzing. We are also going to be covering two of the greatest songs to come from a Manchester band, playing with one of our musical inspirations. It’s a one-off, won’t-be-released, very Manchester event.”
Duddell concurs. “Our set is a unique one-off collaboration,” he says. “Every track has been specially orchestrated just for Versus Cancer. “With the backing of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, this will be James as you’ve never heard them before. “Just like my gig with Elbow and the Halle earlier in the year, there are no plans to record or repeat it. Some anthems, a few surprises and maybe a special treat or two. That’s as much as I’m prepared to give away!”
Versus Cancer is never just about the headliner, of course. The main draw is the eclectic bill and, true to previous years, this year’s event has a little bit of something for most people. It’s Manchester heavy, with James, Happy Mondays, Puressence , Kid British, Peter Hook and Rourke, and there’s an emerging artists turn from unsigned band competition winners Hey Zeus -who , it happens, are also Manchester lads.
But there’s a UK-wide selection of stars too: Snow Patrol, The Twang and Codeine Velvet Club (the new band from Jon Fratelli) are already confirmed and organisers say there’s still time to add more bands to the schedule.
What old Manchester faves are left? Mozza? The Chameleons, perhaps? Watch this space.