Harvest Sun @ Leaf 5/10/16

After a triumphant gig at Studio2 earlier in the year, there’s many an eager face around Leaf tonight to see MEILYR JONES’ return to the city. It’s a been monumental year for the ex-Race Horses man with a busy tour schedule supporting his critically-acclaimed debut solo long player. Going it alone appears to have given Jones a new lease of life which he is grasping with both hands.

Opening number How To Recognise A Work Of Art, the single which preceded the album 2013, is evidence enough of his ascendence. A brassy riff which wouldn’t be out of place in the opening credits of a BBC sports highlight show (it’s that good), biting satirical lyrics and tonight, a band revelling in the energy the opener creates, sets the tone for a show which will live up to its door receipt.

There’s no shortage of drama and theatrics to Jones’ stage manner. Between songs, the Welshman is all sweet sincerity, while during the huge sounds of his chamber pop compositions, he lives every swell, crescendo and plateau. Each songs starts with our hero centering himself before launching into the gypsy folk of Olivia or the unadulterated pop of Strange Emotion. The latter is a set highlight, with relatively sparse instrumentation drawing attention to Jones’ poetic ode to his adopted home of Rome and its role in delivering him to artistic satisfaction from the ashes of his former band. Similarly, the simple piano accompaniment to Refugees is the perfect foil to heartfelt plea to “Get up, switch off, switch off your television.”

The enthusiasm is consensual, with many singing along to every word and almost everyone beaming with sheer joy. The band prove they are a match for Jones’ songwriting prowess in their virtuosic playing and swapping between a multitude of instruments, faithfully recreating the eclectic, big band sounds of the album.

When Jones apologises for it being a subdued show due to his mum and aunt being in the audience, a fan pipes up with an enquiry about him not cross-dressing. Jones informs the audience member he hasn’t actually confronted his family with that side of his life as yet and didn’t feel this was appropriate platform. The delivery is hilariously dry and a great way to bring the pre-encore show to an end.

Jones is more serious when he requests that the bar staff don’t clink glasses during the last number, but with good reason. With band, he steps off stage to perform the entire final song a cappella. As with the album, Be Soft closes the night beautifully. The record and both live shows have ensured Jones’ stock on Merseyside is sky high. Here’s looking forward to his next return.

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