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Bill Ryder-Jones

Bill Ryder-Jones – Chalk, Brighton

Bill Ryder-Jones brought an effortless intimacy down to the south coast for the latest leg of his tour for his new album Iechyd Da ( ‘cheers’ in Welsh).

Owing to a tight curfew, Bill arrives on stage with his band and gets right down to it with a quick hello to a huddled crowd at Brighton’s Chalk. With a hushed and slightly cracked vocal style, he gently stirs the setting and eases us in with I Hold Something in my Hand

Through a mop of floppy hair that hangs over his eyes, Bill mumbles his inbetween song patter, apart from one unexpected moment when he impersonates a dinosaur. There is a reserved shyness and a nervous humour that the crowd warm to and nestle in for a set that stretches across a twelve year back catalogue. The band play songs such as the heart-wrenching Daniel, Two to Birkenhead and a moving pin drop moment when Bill stands alone under a single spotlight for an acoustic version of Seabirds.

The set is filled with beautifully rich songs, an ache and yearning but with moments of catharsis and exultation. There are offerings of folk, country style sliding guitar and strings, electric guitar and even smatterings of Mo-Town doo-wops with the crowd pleasing I Know That It’s Like This (Baby) off his new album.

Fans of Badly Drawn Boy will prick their ears up throughout especially on songs such as A Bad Wind Blows My Heart Part 3 while a Flaming Lips style euphoria raises up on set closer and my personal favourite This Can’t Go On. But make no mistake, Bill is his own artist. Modestly shaking off his legacy as one of the founding fathers of The Coral and carving out a unique sonic sound that is rich in production, joyful and sweeping but also heartbreaking and tender. 

Barring one out of time and place altercation between two sets of legacy Coral fans standing next to me, the crowd match his kindly energy, offering encouragement throughout, and by the end we’ve all leaned closer to the stage, holding gentle space for Bill and his band to finish their enlightening set.

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