Barry Adamson – Live at St. George’s Church, Tyldesley, Manchester December 29th 2022

Upon arriving at this beautiful big old church in the godforsaken who knows where, way out in the furthest reaches of Manchester’s orbit, it became pretty obvious pretty quickly that this was a local night for local people. The pews were packed with revellers all merrily chatting away to each other through the night, wandering up and down the aisles, all attempting (successfully) to shout over the acts that lined up for their turns. We managed to ensconce ourselves behind a pillar somewhere and wish that we had brought some soft padding to sit on. Beautiful as old churches are, there are some disadvantages, the worst being that pub style shouts and chuntering tend to carry as much as the acts, who were all getting drowned out in the malaise. I have to admit that in most cases this was somewhat of a Godsend, especially when one of them decided to treat us to a rendition of  Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up”. In light of the fact that the erstwhile warbler is a local lad, and that the audience was entirely made up of Friday night locals, many of whom were dressed in non-ironic eighties apparel, this did receive the biggest cheer of the night, along with impromptu dancing in the aisles and out of time clapping. Despite this I was struggling to hear much over the conversations being had between the people both behind and in front of us. There were a number of times when I felt like leaving as I’m not comfortable in pub environments, but hoped that it might get better when Mr. Adamson appeared, although by this stage I suspected that most people in the building had never heard of him.

It’s great when you get the chance to play in such a beautiful environment such as this, and even better when the place is full to the rafters, but not so much when the incessant chatter from the audience throughout threatens to overwhelm the music. The first couple of numbers where performed with aplomb by the man in his usual stylish attire, and despite having no band and relying on pre-recorded beats/music he was trying his best to put on a good show. However when he sat down with his guitar for a couple of blues based numbers , including “Broken Moments” and the impeccable “The Climber” from 2021’s “Steal Away” EP, one could sense that he was really struggling to hold the crowd’s attention.  He was only momentarily phased though, as he put down his guitar and went into “Civilisation”, perhaps the most radio friendly song in his canon, with its motown inspired brass stabs and funky bass, which worked its magic and got bums off  seats…and for a little while the natives  weren’t quite so restless. Admittedly “Jazz Devil” was perhaps a little too weird for most tastes but they stuck with it and most people actually seemed to be enjoying it, and by the time he did “Still I Rise”, with its angry trip-hop beats and appropriately self aggrandising lyrics, those who had never heard of him were starting to pay attention, though I could just imagine this being delivered by a full frontal live band going hell for leather, and that’s something that would have quelled the masses once and for all.

Andrew Wood

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