The arts club fills quickly, the buzz throughout this intimate setting in the hometown of Liverpool and as the anticipation of the home grown hero builds so does the joy and maybe even pride in the fact that Bill Ryder-Jones has fully returned to music.
As Bill Ryder-Jones and band walk on stage, cheers surge through the room and heckles of football scores are thrown about, but as soon as the first chords are played and the opening lines of “Tell Me You Don’t Love Me Watching” are sung a hush falls over the crowd as they watch captivated and in awe. “Let’s Get Away From Here” and “There’s a World Between Us” casts a similar spell over the crowd with cheers at the end of songs in the pauses before they slide into the next hypnotic melodies and lyrics of heartache, loss and love. These wrap around and wind their way throughout the crowd.
“He Took You In His Arms” begins and the audience is hypnotized and once again begins to sway and move with the melody and vocals washing over in the manner of the tide washing over the rocks. This feeling is continued throughout “Wild Swans.” A song which holds an idea of hope and longing which is a flawless combination of melody and lyrics intertwining.
As the band leave the stage and Ryder-Jones is left alone on the stage for a short acoustic set of fan favorites such as “Christina” and “Put It Down Before You Break It” songs which, in the stripped back manner, making the intimate setting even more so with the raw performance of guitar and vocals.
The packed room has the occasional outbursts of proclamations of love and chants of New Brighton and each time Ryder-Jones seamlessly acknowledges these moments as if acknowledging an old friend, with a laugh and a thank you and then back into his set.
As the band rejoins Bill Ryder Jones onstage, the set continues with “ Two to Birkenhead” which adds another wave of energy to the crowd and staying still becomes almost impossible. Following this with “Two Lines” a cover of Lightship, a cover which melds perfectly into his own set as if it was his very own with it’s beautiful dreamlike nature.
The debut (on this tour) of a song called “Liam Said it Better” a reference to Liam Power of By The Sea and the guitarist in Ryder-Jones band and insisting this song is a rip off of the aforementioned band of Power’s. The new material is well received and leaves the audience intrigued as to more new music to come from Bill Ryder-Jones.
The set ends on three songs, the heart wrenching “Daniel” which captivates the crowd and holds their attention whilst the melody flows around the room and the people. This then flows into “Wild Roses” which instantly begins to move the crowd as if controlled by the music itself and the wild roses take complete hold. As the opening chords of “Satellites” strike up and the heavy drums grunge dream pop melody takes over it makes a surge of movement and is then phased out and into the softer musings and the vocal and lyrical strengths, however the style is not lost and this same movement re surges once again.
Bill Ryder-Jones’s return to music has been that of a triumphant one, he can stand on his own as an artist and hold an entire room captivated with just his guitar and vocals but also leads an already impressive band with the confidence that should be held with music of this stature. Any chance to experience a gig by Bill Ryder-Jones and his band should taken without hesitation.
Words by Jessica Borden