City Reign’s EP launch- Gulliver’s

Emily Whitehouse

On the 26th November, I ventured out into the depths of Manchester’s Northern Quarter to attend City Reign’s launch party for their long awaited EP Number’s For Street Names. I walked past the bottle green tiles encasing the outside of Gulliver’s (which were better suited to a grotty 70’s bathroom) and into its dated interior. Not that this seemed to matter to the hordes of locals already on their way to inebriation and enjoying the pub’s friendly atmosphere. As I entered the live music room upstairs, I was struck by how vastly different the décor was to the traditional pub below it.  The right-hand wall was haphazardly plastered with figures from popular culture, from Sid Vicious to Tommy Cooper and the ceiling was blood-red and ornately carved creating a gothic quality throughout the room- although this may have had something to do with the fact that the fake cobwebs from Halloween were yet to be taken down.

The first support act, Emma Elizabeth, performed to a relatively empty room, which was a shame as she was a great singer; imagine a slightly annoying Kate Nash twang but with the vocals of Laura Marling to cancel this irritation out. The second support band, Stella Marconi, were unfortunately slightly less impressive, appearing more like a high school band than serious musicians. The bassist was completely static and there was no subtlety to their song writing which wasn’t helped by the fact that the bass entirely drowned out the guitar and vocals. Modern Alarms were the final support act and were admittedly better than the last. The band played tightly however the lead singer had an arrogant swagger that could rival Liam Gallagher and without the talent to back it up- or at least without a talented brother to balance it out.

Now on to City Reign… The band consists of Chris Bull (Vocals/Guitar), Michael Grice (Guitar), Michael Glaze (Bass) and Duncan Bolton (Drums). I immediately took a liking to the band for the fact that they were sat in the doorway taking money for the gig themselves and showing a complete lack of pretension, which was rather refreshing. They seemed a lot more natural and relaxed on stage in comparison to the previous two bands, even stating, “we don’t really make a set list, we just make it up as we go along”. Despite not being enormously groundbreaking in style, they delivered a great performance and the group have a lot of chemistry on stage. Although there was not a particularly large crowd, those that were there appeared to be loyal fans and even sang along to the songs on the bands’ new EP, despite the fact that it was only released five days previous to the gig.

The boys took time off from their tour to answer a few questions especially for Pulp…

Your new EP, Numbers for Street Names was officially released on November 21st; how do you feel it’s been received by critics and fans so far?

It’s been received fairly well by critics so far. People seem to think it’s not massively innovative, but what we do, we do well. Which is always what we set out to do really. 

You’ve been likened to bands such as The Vaccines and Doves to name but a few, but what bands do you feel best represent your style of music?

Yea, we tend to get compared to any old band that plays guitar. We’ve had quite a varied selection of comparisons, but I guess bands like Idlewild, Doves, The National, these are the bands that have something that we aspire to. You get the feeling when you listen to these bands that they don’t feel under any pressure to make a certain kind of music, they just make the music they love and people love them for it. That’s generally been our philosophy since we formed the band. Definitely

What bands are you listening to at the moment?

Been listening to a lot of REM recently, still mourning that loss. In terms of new bands, listened to Manchester band Patterns latest single Induction, which was pretty good. We’re good friends with The Last Party as well who are another Manchester band. But if you are to take one recommendation from us, go and listen to Wiretree, a band from Texas who played with us in London. They are great on record and even better live, definitely worth checking out. 

Do you have a favourite song/album of 2011?

The My Morning Jacket album was really great. I jumped on that band wagon pretty late, but I loved that album and ended up going back and listening to their older stuff and really liked that too. 

What do you hope to achieve in 2012?

We’d like to finish a full length album and release it. We think we’ve got enough good material now to do it and if we could get that under our belts it would be a really great achievement. 

What made you move to Manchester from London?

We both came up to Manchester to go to uni originally, but ended up staying because we loved the city. It’s got a great attitude which suits us quite well I think. I still love London obviously but when I go back I feel a bit like an outsider now, it’s strange. We just feel at home here now. 

Do you enjoy playing in Manchester? How does it differ from other cities you’ve played on the tour?

Yes, Manchester can be a great place to play, but it can also be really tough. The city lives and breathes music so there’s always so much going on, it can be hard to stand out. But what’s great about Manchester audiences is that they do really care about music and if they like you they really like you and they let you know. That’s what it’s all about really. 

All in all, City Reign deserve a listen. Their recorded tracks reek of experience and dedication so who cares if they’re not “massively innovative”; as they put it, what they do, they do well, and that’s what counts.


For more information on City reign and to order their EP, visit


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