Live Review: Gerd Janson at Joshua Brooks, Manchester
Check out our thoughts on German house legend Gerd Janson's performance at Joshua Brooks in Manchester.
Date published: 30th May 2023
Joshua Brooks has been a Manchester institution since it opened its doors back in 1993. Nestled on the corner of Prince’s Street, it’s hosted gigs and club nights with some of the most renowned names in the house & techno scene. It’s a versatile venue, and one which regularly hosts screenings for City & United’s biggest games throughout the course of the season. It has built its reputation on being a well-crafted, intimate club venue, but there’s much more happening besides. Away from the dancefloor, the venue offers a decent selection of food, which can be a cost-effective way of lining your stomach before heading down to the basement for the night. Having a decent outdoor seating area always goes down well, especially as we inch towards summer and you’re less concerned about your fingers turning blue as you chain smoke an Elf bar.
Downstairs, however, it’s all business. The 400-capacity room is furnished with an outstanding VOID soundsystem, with speakers littered at various points across the dancefloor. The room itself is fairly understated, with a simple LED display backlighting the DJ as they go to work.
Photo: Gerd Janson / Facebook.com
What it doesn’t have, crucially, are many of the trappings which can make these sorts of smaller clubs uncomfortable. Put simply, it doesn’t get ridiculously hot, the toilets are well-situated and there’s a bar right by the DJ booth. These may sound like the basics, but they’re ones which can really affect your enjoyment of a night on the tiles. Clubs like Joshua Brooks are the perfect tonic to Warehouse Project’s larger-scale offering. The Mayfield Depot offers a crucial, and thrilling, headline for the city’s electronic music scene. But there wouldn’t be a scene at all if it wasn’t for the city’s institutions booking cutting-edge DJs and producers for 52 weeks a year.
As for the music itself, leading the charge this past Saturday (27 May) was German house music royalty, Gerd Janson. Having grown up in Frankfurt, he became synonymous with serving the hottest house and disco cuts at the legendary Robert Johnson club. His own Running Back label and Tuff City Kids alias produce classic-leaning tracks effective on the dance floor. He’s no stranger to Manchester’s clubbing circuit, having played alongside Bicep at the Warehouse Project as far back as 2014.
Gerd was a typically fine choice for a venue which doesn’t often miss with its bookings. Their b2b bookings have been excellent, with Burnski & Subb-An sharing the decks in a couple of weeks’ time, and Nautica pencilled in to kick off their brand new “All Night Long” series.
Gerd had stepped up to plan an extended set and, as you may expect for one of the best DJs in the world, absolutely smashed it.
Photo: Joshua Brooks
For someone with a criminally short attention span, and who deleted TikTok because the videos were long, his are sets that never get boring. It was a set that leaned heavily into the music from his own label. Krystal Klear has followed up the incredible “Neuron Dance” with a tune that may be even more of an earworm in “Americana”, an absolutely thumping record which carries similar sort of synths and textures, and one which pushed Joshua Brooks’ soundsystem to its limits. This was soon followed up by Digitalism’s “Haus It Going”, one of the more recent releases in Gerd’s own Running Back label. It’s a typically excellent slice of piano-laden house; a peak-time banger that kept the dancefloor moving.
He dug a little bit deeper into his record collection and pulled out Joey Negro’s 12-inch remix of “Dancing and Prancing”, as well as “Come to Me” by emerging producer Kendal. Obviously, there were also countless huge tracks which I didn’t recognise. This is either a sign that Gerd Janson has a wider taste in music than I do, or that I’m almost 30 and far less relevant than I used to be. Both of these things are probably true.
The unmistakable stabs of KiNK’s “Perth” soon punched through the venue’s speaker system as an outstanding set headed towards its conclusion. Joshua Brooks has hit upon a winning formula. A well laid out basement club, with tremendous DJs playing extended sets to a receptive crowd. It’s uncomplicated and unpretentious, but it's one of the best clubbing experiences in a city with some stiff competition.
Check out our What's On Guide to discover more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.