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The Swing Commanders

Review: The Swing Commanders at Matt and Phreds

  • NQ's Molly-May Webb reviews The Swing Commanders' latest live gig in Manchester
  • The 5-piece Jazz ensemble played at the stylish Northern Quarter bar Matt and Phreds

I can’t say I’ve ever seen that many swing/jazz concerts in my life, not since I left jazz band at school anyway. However, last Thursday night I found myself in the presence of swing geniuses as far as I’m concerned. I’d been for a post late night library session beer but I wasn’t ready to head home. I dragged my friends to the Northern Quarter in search for further Thursday night thrills and boy did we find some.

Matt and Phreds has two entrances and we found ourselves at the back entrance. I felt like I was sneaking into a secret club in 1920’s Paris.

Shortly after our arrival, on they came… The Swing Commanders. If I’m honest I had no idea what to expect, I know the genre but couldn’t say I often divulged in it.

The Swing Commanders are a 5 piece band with a list as long as your arm of amazing credentials. They’ve all played at festivals across the country and overseas. You’d be hard pushed to find anyone else more qualified. They play all manner of songs from 30’s Americana to 50’s Western swing, matching it with perfect and beautiful harmonies and impeccable musical talent.

The band’s frontman Peter Riley has a voice that just takes me back to nights at my Nan and Granddad's social club when I was a wee girl running riot on the dance floor. Pair it with Daisy Thurkettles beautifully 50’s tone and its magic. Not to mention Sienna Lloyd.

This woman is simply phenomenal. I was impressed when she picked up her saxophone but I could barely contain myself when she switched to the piano only to pull out an accordion out of, what seemed like her back pocket. It doesn’t stop there, though; Peter and her had a delightful encounter as they switched roles and she became the double bass player. All of this whilst singing along. I was so impressed I had to catch her afterwards and tell her she was my new hero.

It was clear we were the only newcomers. Everyone in there knew what they had signed up for. Darling old couples were waltzing and doing the Charleston, it was like watching Strictly live in your front room. It was a really special evening with a different generation but it didn’t matter, we all were together for the music and the dancing. Everyone was up on their feet, swapping partners and going with it. Yes, I had never met any of them before but I would happily party with these pals night after night, should my bank balance allow it.


You can keep up with them on their Facebook or their website but while you’re waiting for their return, head down Tib Street to Matt and Phreds and boogie your woes away to one of the many great bands who play there. Plus they have free pizza during happy hour. There's no excuse not to now.

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