Since his departure from Catfish and the Bottlemen in 2014, Billy Bibby has strived to discover his own sound. After announcing to the Twittersphere that he was “looking for backing band members that are, young, dedicated and hungry to tour”, Bibby arrived in Manchester this month for the fourth stop of his 2016 tour. With him he brings the Wry Smiles, Matty Thomas, Mikey Pearce and Robbie Jones.
The band have a warm presence as they bounce on stage, splashing us with a refreshing burst of indie pop once they break into song. Billy looks a little more (dare I say) mainstream than when we spoke prior to the show. His hair now slicked into a quiff and he wears a short sleeved button up shirt. It’s the look of an indie frontman.
‘This Kind Of Summer’ sounds a lot like something chart-toppers Lawson would release. A perfect song to reminisce to, a long car journey classic. Another good’un is ‘Waitin For You’ which I note as sounding pleasantly a little Barenaked ladies as well as including the first shredder of a solo, earning a scream from the audience. What is great about this performance is the journey of influences we, as an audience, are being guided through with every song. Among Bibby’s influences is Elvis Presley which shines through at times, blending into the mix of country and old school rock. I think Bibby gets that we’re tired of the same old Indie rock and he’s delivering by giving us something different. His hooks are just that, as an audience we are hooked. His talent as both a song writer and guitarist are clear and the energy the band exude is inspiring considering how recently they formed.
Bibby stands alone for an acoustic cover of Catfish and the Bottlemen’s ‘Pacifier’. I spot the bassist comically crouching beside an amp while Bibby impresses with his skilled performance. Unfortunately, not everyone is paying enough attention to be impressed. This could be put down to the pace set by the warm up band, which was picked up by Bibby and co until this point. Its as if a lull in entertainment spreads across the room, sparking chatter as it passes.
The energy is back with ‘Don’t Fall’ in which the vocals are the thread weaving the four piece together. It’s great to see a band enjoying the moment as much as the audience.
Definitely glad I was there to witness Bibby’s roar of a comeback as well as the introduction of the Wry Smiles. Their EP ‘Bide Your Time’ is out now on Soundcloud and be sure to watch this space. You can listen to ‘Waitin’ For You’ at the bottom of the page.
I feel a quick mention to the warmup act Carjack Mallone is due. Before they’d barely struck a note they grabbed the crowd’s attention by its collective throat. It was like everyone in the room suddenly took 10 steps forward and before I can get a good look at what is going on, we’re dancing. The singer channels Axl Rose and that is not a comparison I make lightly. Perhaps not the most conventionally talented vocally but his screams are filled with so much power and melody. I finally catch a glimpse of this raucous front man. He’s wearing an American Apparel hoodie and has a quiff but my god, that stage persona is working because you hardly notice. The variation in pace and melody from both guitars and drums was impressive. ‘Paula’s Town’ made me want to get up on stage. When the band are done, the crowd pleas and cries for “one more tune!”. The only plea for an encore that night. Check out their music here: https://soundcloud.com/carjack-mallone-972092609