The Manchester Acoustic Blues Festival – MABS Fest 2017 – took place recently, some five months late, in a combined showing of defiance, following this summer’s terrorist attack, just yards from its original location.
A delighted audience at a completely new venue, the recently refurbished Met Theatre in Bury, were treated to a fine evening of some of the best blues entertainment in the UK. A wide spectrum of styles began with the area’s own Pete Ryder, who himself runs an independent blues club in Salford, and continued with an excellent set by Dai and Barbara Thomas.
This year’s festival delay had enabled a chance to host the first reading of the highly prestigious European Blues Awards results. Suspense was high, as the next performer and former award nominee, Bluesman Mike Francis, read out the winners before playing a fine set with special guest, Andy C, from Sisters in Grease.
Next up was headliner, Elles Bailey, who had been featured as a finalist in this year’s European Blues Awards and treated the audience to a very special unplugged acoustic performance of her highly rated latest album.
MABS Fest is a component of the summer Manchester Biennial Independent Arts programme, that normally precedes the larger Manchester International Festival.
Organiser Mike Carvalho commented: “We are really grateful to everyone that has supported the festival and enabled it to go ahead, in the face of so much adversity, following an unavoidable postponement in June. It is an incredible showing of defiance by all concerned”
He added: “Without the help of David Agnew and his team at the Met Theatre in Bury, it would have been summer 2019, before another such event would have been possible.
At the festival, a contribution was made from all merchandising sales and given to the We Love Manchester Disaster Fund, in memory of the victims of this summer’s tragedy in the city.