Andy Shauf – The Shipping Forecast, Liverpool – 20/04/16

Andy Shauf is making the most of his run of dates supporting the current Billboard chart toppers, The Lumineers. The night before, Shauf was in Manchester playing his set before the Denver trio played theirs, but tonight it was Liverpool’s turn and on this occasion it was Shauf headlining the evening.

This is a trend that’s continuing over the next couple of weeks (using his days off to headline his own shows) before he goes off, with band, on a tour of Europe that culminates with a couple of sets at my favourite festival, Primavera Sound.

It was The Shipping Forecast’s turn to house Andy Shauf & band on this warm April evening. I’d not visited the venue before but my initial impressions were good. The backstage area consisted of a couch that could be found at the side of the stage and the room, in the basement with low ceilings and pillars, had a cosy feel about it.

Basking in a sea of red light, the four piece began with the song that introduced me to Shauf, ‘The Magician’. Although it was missing a couple of instruments, the combination of keys, bass, drums and Andy himself was instantly impressive. The mix was warm, comforting even, and the performance reminded me of why I loved it so.

When this was followed with ‘Jerry Was A Clerk’ from 2015’s incredible The Bearer of Bad News, I knew I was in for an enjoyable hour of music. This was also helped by crowd, given the last couple of experiences in Liverpool, remaining silent through the opening tracks.

On May 20th Shauf releases his new record The Party, “we’re playing some new stuff tonight, well, new if you know any of my stuff”, he stated almost apologetically, “we’re just practicing”. Although he was likely just trying to break the silence between tracks the new tracks sounded fantastic. If this was really them ‘just practicing’ then you people seeing him later on in the tour are in for something pretty special.

‘Jenny Come Home’ brought a welcome, upbeat number to the set, but the sound of the show was so comforting that the highlight of the evening came from ‘I’m Not Falling Asleep’. Shauf’s vocals are remarkably pleasant on record but in the live setting it really is something else and it was this track that emphasised that.

Andy Shauf is unlikely to ever be the most exciting show that you attend, but this was one of the most enjoyable and best sounding gigs that I’ve been to for a long time. My hat goes off to the sound engineer who got the mix spot on. I can only urge you to check out The Bearer of Bad News now, and The Party when it’s released in May. See you in Barcelona, Andy.