The Lightning Seeds, Badly Drawn Boy and Casino, Albert Hall Manchester, UK 19/11/22

 

 

WORDS AND IMAGES BY PAUL EVANS 

 

I’m back at the glorious Albert Hall tonight for two of the UKs finest songwriters of the last 30 years and a stunning new band I’ve only just come to know. Manchester is busy tonight. In fact, it’s very busy and the former Wesleyan chapel is as impressive as ever. The seated balcony looms over the stage floor already full of thirty-year-old plus fans. There’s no light through the stained-glass windows tonight, but the walls are still covered in the tiles and peeling paint from a bygone era. It’s a stunning setting for a stunning line-up of The Lightning Seeds, Badly Drawn Boy and Casino.  Legendary Lightning Seeds frontman Ian Broudie has produced some of my favourite ever albums, “Crocodiles” and “Porcupine” by Echo & the Bunnymen, “From Across the Kitchen Table” by Michael Head’s old band The Pale Fountains, “Played” by The Bodines and written some of the most stirring pop songs of the last 30 years so it’s going to be a good one.

I’ve been saying for years that if a band could merge the energy and rhythm of Northern Soul floor stompers with a Twentieth Century feel then they’ll have a cool sound. Listening to Liverpool’s Casino before the gig it seems someone was listening. Tracks such as “Back in the day” and “Love go on” resemble Northern Soul classics such as Jerry Fuller’s “Double Life” and Maurice Williams “Being with you”. They bounce off the walls and vibrate the floor like foot stompers would have done at Wigan Casino back in the day. These guys are stunning and the five-piece look completely at home on the high ornate stage. I see a bright future so keep your eyes and ears peeled and catch them soon.

 

 

On the back of his first album, “The Hour of Bewilderbeast” Badly Drawn Boy won the 2000 Mercury Music Prize and Damon aka Badly Drawn Boy has been writing and performing his idiosyncratic, quintessentially English songs ever since.  He isn’t often on tour, so it’s a rare treat to see him on home territory. Casually sauntering onstage in his trademark hat, Damon covers the breadth of his career with  “This is that new song”; “Something to talk about”; “Fly on the Wall”; “All Possibilities” and the hauntingly beautiful “Silent Sigh”.

It’s a captivating set of flawlessly performed songs that gently remind me what a back catalogue he has and what a performer he is.  His banter is kept to a minimum tonight apart from thanking The Lightning Seeds for having him on tour and likening being on tour with them to an episode from Scooby Doo. It conjures up surreal images of The Lightning Seeds and Damon in the Mystery Machine for me and I smile. Not sure which one Scooby is to be honest, but it’s a funny moment in an emotionally charged set.  It takes a solo acoustic performance of some level to impress a crowd and fill the arched ceiling of the Albert Hall with such tranquil songs, but Damon and his acoustic guitar do just that. It’s an exquisite and spine-tingling performance and with a shake of his hand and a “thank you, Manchester” he is gone.

 

 

As “Panic” by the Smiths fades out on the PA and the house lights dim, onto the stage arrive Ian, his son Riley on guitar, Martyn Campbell on Bass, Jim Sharrock on drums and Adele Emmas on Keyboard. This tour is to celebrate the release of the bands “See You in the Stars”, (check out All Music Magazine UK review here) their first album in 13 years and the band launch straight into the uplifting “Sunshine” from it. Pop masterpieces “Ready or Not”, “Change”, “All I Want”, “Lucky You” and “Perfect” bring the Albert Hall completely alive, the audience clapping in the air and singing every word. It’s an emotional and religious experience of perfectly played pop anthems and I’m reminded of sunnier times and hot days. Ian’s voice is magnificent and the band are hypnotic to watch and listen to as classic song follows classic song. There’s an unbelievable connection between the band and the crowd and their playing is bang on.

Cover versions “Whole Wide World” by Reckless Eric and “You Showed Me” by The Byrd’s precede new single “Emily Smiles” which emerges as another Broudie masterpiece. “Pure” and fan favourite “The Life of Riley” complete the main set. The band building the tension in the latter, Riley mouthing the songs words “I don’t mind, I get the feeling, you’ll be fine, I still believe that, in this world, we’ve got to find the time” with the crowd before the strobe lights kick in for the uplifting chorus. It sounds stunning and there’s plenty of smiles amongst the band. They’re definitely enjoying playing an amazing set. Ian shouts “You’ve been fantastic Albert Hall, we love you” before leaving the stage.

One day before the World Cup kicks off there’s only one song everyone is wanting to hear tonight and there’s an astonishing atmosphere as the band return to the stage for “Marvellous” and the best(?) ever football anthem “Three Lions”. The atmosphere is electric, every single person in the venue singing “It’s Coming Home” at the top of their voices clapping and stabbing the air. It’s an impressive, dazzlingly written and painlessly confident pop song irrespective of its football content and in a live setting surrounding by your friends it’s truly religious, euphoric and full of happiness. It’s just one of those spine-tingling moments. Ian thanks the Albert Hall again and the band leave the stage smiling.  I’m guessing they enjoyed it as much as we did. The Lightning Seeds are definitely still gleaming.

 

 

SET LIST

1/ Sunshine

2/ Ready or Not

3/ Change

4/ All I Want

5/ Lucky You

6/ Feeling Lazy

7/ Perfect

8/ Great To Be Alive

9/ Sense

10/ Whole Wide World 

11/ What If…

12/ Waiting for Today to Happen

13/ You Showed Me

14/ Telling Tales

15/ Losing You

16/ Emily Smiles

17/ Sugar Coated Iceberg

18/ Pure

19/ The Life of RileyEncore:

10/ Marvellous

11/ Three Lions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I've loved music since forever. Graphic designer, photographer and artist at painted.papillon.smile (www.ppsdesign.co.uk)

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