Soul Out @ Barca Manchester Sunday 23rd March 2008
Review - T2 Bad
Soul Out has been running for many years across many venues, but it has found its spiritual home at Barca in Castlefield Manchester. On a freezing cold Easter Bank Holiday Sunday the Soul Out devotees braved the Antarctic conditions in search of Soul Nirvana.
On arriving the first impression that I gathered was the diversity of the Soul Out masses. There were some seriously smartly dressed people in there and there were also some not so smartly dressed but they all integrated with each other seamlessly.
There were 4 rooms of music which are apparently supposed to represent the different genres of Soul music.
There was an 80’s room hosted by Soul Out & Mr Smiths legend Alex Badass who was supported by Mr Fingaz, and a Classic R&B room with DJ’s Tiny G of Soul Nation & Foot Patrol fame alongside DJ Vibez. Room 3 was themed as the NU Soul Arena with DJ’s Tom Jordan, Martin Hall and Tim Breen and the 4th arena was the Lover’s Rock room. This was ably hosted by Tappa Benz, Mikey Bupps & Princey…….Phew!!! A lot of DJ’s and many arenas!!!
But herein laid the problem which many commented on when asked how their night was progressing. When I first arrived Intasoul were playing in the 80’s room and Tiny G was holding the swing in the Classic R&B room. Now most of the people in attendance were rocking to Tiny G and the 80’s room was quite sparsely populated. However Tiny G dropped a track which wasn’t well received by the crowd and as quick as a flash the room was empty!!!! It was as if someone had cocked his leg and dropped his guts!!! Now this phenomenon had more to do with too much choice than how bad the Track was that Tiny G played because this was happening between the 80’s room & the Classic R&B room all night.
I followed the crowd into the 80’s room where Intasoul were playing and it was amazing how different it was compared to 5 minutes earlier!!!! The Lover’s Rock arena was pretty quiet most of the night although there was an OK vibe about it. I was expecting to see “A man wid him Gyal” whining up against the wall 80’s blues stylee but alas the crowd in here weren’t brave enough to roll back the years in true Lover’s Rock style. The music on offer in this room was more cool and easy listening rather than full on Lover’s Rock, but the few in this arena seemed to appreciate the DJ’s efforts all the same even though the atmosphere was a bit flat at times.
The Nu Soul room was more of a chill-out zone and never really engaged me and the few who were in there during the many times I visited this arena.
Soul Out has always been a place where people are likely to meet old friends of whom they haven’t seen for years and the Easter 08 event was no exception. It was particularly nice to bump into Carol Forrester who I went to school with pre-computer days!!!! The problem that I found with Soul Out and this was mentioned by many, many people was that there were enough people to make one of the larger arenas into an excellent night, or if split over 2 arenas it would have made a decent night in both, but definitely not 4 rooms!!!
The Soul Out Masses were spread all over the place and didn’t seem to hang around in any of the rooms for an extended period. This also affected the DJ’s who were obviously aware that one wrong tune could spell curtains for that room, so consequently there were more similarities between the 3 Soul arenas than differences. This fact was also pointed out to me a few times during the evening. There were other issues to do with the night which are being addressed by the main man Wadey which should sort out most of the points raised in this review and some which haven’t been mentioned.
There is a major difference between Soul Out at the Mint Lounge and Soul Out Barca. The Mint Lounge has more structure to the event simply because of the fact that there is only one room. Soul Out at Barca seemed chaotic at times with DJ’s swapping rooms and the music policy changing along with it. If you take the top end of Barca and add the sophisticated Northern Quarter crowd, there you have Soul Out - Mint Lounge, Barca has more of a diverse Urban crowd which will suit some more than others.
The final half hour or so in the 80’s room was more of what most of us had come to Barca for. Alex dealt with the time he had available admirably and for me that period of the evening was Soul Out - Barca’s unique selling point, as everyone congregated in this room at the end of the night and it felt like a proper party. The sound systems used were adequate more than spectacular, but this had more to do with noise abatement issues as Barca is surrounded by urban dwellings.
Soul Control Verdict:
Soul Out has become the bastion of the Mancunian Soul scene in recent years. Putting all the rooms together, Barca is a vacuous place and one which could prove difficult to pull together on occasions. Soul Out is worth a look but is in need of strategic adjustment, it was OK rather than spectacular but this might have more to do with the fact it was held at the end of a long weekend which started at Relish on Thursday night.
Soul Control Rating: