On a chilly otherwise uneventful Monday night Barry Adamson, a sprightly 58-year-old Mancunian, rocked this venue with a one man tornado of sound.
He appeared around 10pm to a near full audience of fairly old people, some of whom have followed his art from his shifts in massively influential bands Magazine, The Bad Seeds (even Visage!) and his enormous back catalogue of outstanding albums, nine to date, plus numerous other musical ventures in a near 40 year career.
The man himself is charismatic, witty and self-deprecating, suited and booted and an amazingly talented multi-instrumentalist.
He begins with ‘Still I Rise’, a self-mythologising rap which sets the scene, the Manchester lad taking on the world via an interlinked variety of personae, very filmic and always entertaining. Mainly playing to click backing tracks with live vocals and guitar or keyboards, he builds atmosphere with his very distinctive Manc via New Orleans drawl and his guitar fretboard skills. The words are often straight from US pulp noir novels, crossed with preacher’s words, ‘The Beaten Side of Town’ being a good example. There are mad, bad and dangerous broads, guns, failed business ventures, private dicks and urban decay along the way, but in between songs he is quite the comedian, a lively observational card who just has it, in (Sam) spades…
One highlight is ‘Cine City’, an Chandler-esque epic which combines primal Elvis-esque uh-huh crooning with heavy backdrops of hiphop and swamp – and he does all this himself! During one song he plays a guitar solo on his mobile phone, ffs – so you can teach an old dog new tricks! Unfortunate that from several angles from the side of the stage he would appear to be masturbating, the wee device wedged between his legs, but that may well have been deliberate, Barry you naughty boye come up and see BM sometime!
The material is taken mainly from recent releases (last album “Know Where to Run” and recent EP ‘Love Sick Dick’) – this is glorious stuff, the upbeat grooves of ‘The Sound and the Sea’ sounds semi-autobiographical…”I will set you free…”
‘Come Hell or High Water’ is more high-concept soul with menaces, they just don’t make them like this any more – John Barry influences abound but he is only paying his respects, no copies here – a real class act.
There are several revered albums such as ‘Moss Side Story’ and ‘Oedipus Schmoedipus’ which don’t even get a look-in, a testament to this guy’s profound body of work.
‘On Golden Square’ is from the new EP and sounds fantastic – the crowd are pretty responsive given it is a Monday night. Barry says to them that he likes visiting Scotland and has a Scottish surname, but does not have his own tartan. He also gets a singalong going at one point but slags off his own posing…so endearing.
As we get to the end of this epic near 90 minute set (he has already broken a coupla strings of this guitar and joked about this as well…) we get ‘Hot Mess’, again from the new EP, a piledriver of lust and arpeggiating grooves. This transcends musical genres and BM is rendered speechless with awe, and lust actually, this guy has it, the knees go weak, oh excuse me… ‘Jazz Devil’ is hilarious but also sexy – is he the missing link between Howard Devoto and Barry White, he certainly could be…
After a brief Brexit, sorry exit, he is back with a truly slaying encore. The last song is a version of ‘The Light Pours Out Of Me’, the Magazine classic, and to see him pounding that bass at close quarters is a sound and a sight that this reviewer for one will just never ever forget. The song is one of the best of the postpunk era, growling chords plus the bestest instrumental chorus riff, ever, ever!
The gig ended, the audience piled out and walking down St Vincent St. another layer of experience and cosmic knowledge has been added to the BM memory banks.
The guy is a musical legend, full stop – check him out, readers and be prepared to be wowed big time!