Photography: Glyn Akroyd

BILL RYDER-JONES

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  • Saint Saviour
Harvest Sun @ The Kazimier 13/12/13

I definitely know what I want for next Christmas now: a flat-pack orchestra. Preferably one I can fold out for parties serving champagne over spritzer, then seal back up before the hosts suss I’m from Newcastle and check/destroy my forged invitation. SAINT SAVIOUR knows the perks of pocket-sized class, and it’s kind of cute to see her four-piece string section pluck away on the balcony above her, as dignified as crows on a telephone wire. She must’ve shifted her entourage around every stage on this tour (of which tonight is the grand finale) differently, packing her Late Quartet, the backing singers, and Mr BILL RYDER-JONES himself into the crannies of smaller venues. The joint headliners collaborated recently on Saviour’s In The Seams, and BR-J gives fine, amiable support to a set of measured stereoscopy. Our leading lady is impressive but hamstrung by atmosphere, gliding just below rote melodies, maybe stiff with emotion. She holds her young band together without dominating them, though there’s a sense she’s conforming too much to the stateliness of her music. She stands up for Devotion after showing some self-deprecation in Sad Kid¸ which lampoons NME cover photos. The former track is her best so far until she unleashes a scream at the end of Just You and affrights the stately crawl she’s been keeping up.

Bill Ryder-Jones isn’t in a hurry either. “A bad wind blows in my heart” he sings again and again, resignedly, in his opening number, hood disclosing a sliver of his incredibly boyish face. It’s a languid opening complimented by the swathe of family members and Coral fans that’ve turned out tonight. As he fends off his rowdy audience with the air of someone who knows just how popular he is, the gig becomes a love-in, a spectacle of appreciation for one of the men oiling the city’s musical gears. This kind of familiarity could be no fun at all – exposure isn’t exactly something BR-J is lacking these days. But the hour really picks up as a homecoming and an ode to his ongoing passion for all things Liverpool. He indulges a request for Lemon Tree, teases his dad for not coming to a show since he last played with Arctic Monkeys, and premiers a new song about Catharine Street, fitting in a fifteen-minute, acoustic detour to boot. By The Moonlight draws attention to how his delivery hangs off chords like an afterthought, a quietly tragic song that finds a perfect mate in Seabird. One of his lyrics asks whether we’ll be there to catch him if the band plays too fast; this must be a joke, since even Keane are more pyrotechnic, though nowhere near as honest or interesting. And that’s how the minutes pass: a parade of asides and effacement, deflecting the residual feelings for a bygone pack of teens into the trembling light of the future; a heart-warming salute to Bill Ryder-Jones’ impact on the simple pleasures of good music.

Bill Ryder-Jones Image 2
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