Bill Ryder-Jones – Deaf Institute, Manchester – 04/03/16

Towards the end of last year Bill Ryder-Jones released the critically acclaimed West Kirby County Primary. Whilst the record carries a similar level of raw emotion, pain and passion present in his previous releases, this time Bill has turned the volume up. Since the release, Ryder-Jones has been busy touring, allowing the momentum of the singer songwriter to grow. Tonight he brings his latest venture to a packed out Deaf Institute.

In dishevelled dress and shabby hair covering his eyes, he sweeps upon the stage, sluggishly salutes the crowd, straps on his guitar and the crowd fall silent.  He holds the vulnerability yet quiet confidence that makes the first song ‘Tell Me You Don’t Love Me Watching’ a slow, melodic tune, all the more serene as it successfully sedates the raucous Friday crowd. This is, however, short lived as he crashes into ‘Catherine and Huskisson’ and the full band behind him come into play; the crowd sway to one of the more radio friendly tracks from his latest album.

Bill’s performance is sincere and honest; his wounded vocals mirror the desperate song writing dedicated to the pains of an everyday life of a guy who is living in his home town. It is evident that this album was recorded from within his childhood bedroom and this simplicity and vulnerability is conveyed in his performance. The weeping melodies and draining guitar sounds from the second half of ‘Two To Birkenhead’ are a fine example of the feel of the whole gig.  The song drains out to the lyrics ‘they say that desperate times, call for desperate pleasures’ these lines perfectly expresses the relatable struggle Bill has endured since leaving The Coral eight years ago.

It’s Friday and it’s Manchester, so the crowd are vocal, yet requests are smartly shrugged aside. He’s charming, honest and his humour is as endearing as his songs. His witty anguish is summed up in a quip against the venues smoke machine as it inadvertently sets off mid song which startles Bill and the band , as Bills enquires ‘is that supposed to be on or is someone trying to kill us?’ With the night drawing on the crowds’ requests are slowly granted. ‘Wild Roses’ is delivered with a delicate grace and saluted with a boisterous applause. ‘Satellites’ finds its place towards the end of set, as the band impressively crash through the opening bars of the song, which results in an epic tidal wave of piercing guitar riffs followed by the lazy haze of the verse. The audience are yet again entranced by the song that relates to the pains of his depersonalisation disorder that contributed to his leaving of the coral back in 2008. His recovery since then is reflected in the chaos and deliberate equanimity of the performance. The song is a final reminder of the passion, pain and tireless sustain that his angst-ridden song writing represents.

Despite the melancholic subject of some of the songs there is a sense of a new optimism and hope shining through, which can be seen in his smiles hiding behind his draped hair, and these rays are received by the audience. The crowd are left in the wake of a singer-songwriter who is gathering more and more acclaim in his field, and building a trademark sound of his own. It is evident that Bill has a lot more to offer and, it can be said that for now at least, music still holds on to one of its raw and richest talents.