June 19, 2024

Barry Adamson – Live in Leeds 2024 – “film noir-ish jazzy tunes”

Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 30th May 2024

Barry Adamson has a roving focus and we hear it in the quotes, lyrical and musical, popping up throughout songs, pleasing the inner trainspotter and highlighting Adamson’s touchstones. It shows in the genre-hopping too – film noir-ish jazzy tunes abound, soul gets a look in and country blues is present. It’s all a long way from his days in Magazine, Visage and The Bad Seeds, but he’s had years to build his own sound. With many soundtrack contributions to draw on that are popular with fans, he’s chosen to focus instead on his songs tonight, with most of the set from his new album, ‘Cut To Black’.

Adamson is very fortunate to have the snaky jazz drums of Kaja Magsam alongside, adding a smooth groove to everything, and Iain Ross playing solid and deep bass notes. Barry plays guitar on half the songs, borrowing Nadine Khouri’s beautiful semi-acoustic guitar after he breaks a string. Playing simple keyboard parts on an iPad works nicely but I wish he’d left the backing tracks alone – they detracted from the live experience with their canned sound. I’d always rather have a stripped back, adapted sound than tapes and if the songs are strong enough, they’ll take it and even gain in perspective.

Barry is a chatty performer and twits the audience about his recent move to nearby, in Haworth; the Brontes, the Northern cold (“it’s bloody freezing”) and Yorkshire tropes. Leeds welcomes the Southern softy…..

After four new songs, Barry announces some ‘crate digging’ for ‘The Beaten Side’, followed by a tasty solo acoustic section. Marc Bolan gets reworked for the reworded ‘Hot Love’ medley with the Blues of ‘Sundown Country. Kayla and Ian rejoin for an acoustic ‘The Climber’ before four more songs; the swing-styled ‘Sunrise’, the “future festival favourite” ‘One More Midnight’, with tasty organ sounds reminding me of Dylan’s ‘Positively 4th Street’. ‘The Last Words Of Sam Cooke’ is of course a four-to-the-floor stomper, and a reference to the complicated tangle of stories about the night Sam Cooke was shot dead. All that remains is ‘Jazz Devil’, which is how I think Adamson sees himself, a miniature black and white filmic dream sequence, you know, like when Sam Spade has been slugged and drugged by some heavies in hats and is talking his way through a tangled set of hallucinatory images before waking up dumped in the Los Angeles rain. Instead of coming round by a roadside downtown, Barry says his goodbyes to the Brudenell stage and ends up at the merch table.

It’s been an enjoyable hour visiting the genres and images Adamson enjoys, with the only quibble being the unnecessary reliance on pre-recorded instruments.

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