Bill Ryder-Jones is an elusive creature. A founding member of Jangle-rock band The Coral at the age of 13, the artist has matured from the catchy choruses of ‘Dreaming of you’ and ‘In The Morning’ before our eyes to become one of the country’s most endearingly raw songwriters.
There is something antiquated – medieval even – about East London’s Hoxton Hall; a boxy, three-tiered room which boasts greater dimensions in height than it does in width or depth. It’s a space which feels more than fitting to showcase the intimacy of Ryder-Jones’ brand of melancholia.
“Let’s not get too rowdy,” he says as he walks onto the stage to warm applause. “This is not a Kasabian gig.” This kind of patter between tracks is indicative of the artist’s charm, and there is a beguiling juxtaposition between Bill’s down to earth scouse persona and the gossamer delicacy of the songs which it bookends.
Opening the set on a piano, and channelling the tone of his stripped-back versions LP Yawny Yawn, Bill commences with ‘And Then There’s You’, then introduces listeners to a third chapter to his decade-old 2-part track ‘Bad Winds Blow In My Heart’, before cutting through the vulnerability in the room with a rousing version on ‘We Coulda Been Anything’ from Bugsy Malone.
Repositioning himself to a solitary stall to pick up a guitar, Bill offers fan favourite ‘Lemon Tree’, a new track entitled ‘I Hold Something In My Hand’ and 2015’s ‘Daniel’, written about his older brother’s tragic death at the age of 9.
Other new cuts ‘Christina’ and ‘Thankfully For Anthony’ are showcased, among ‘Don’t Be Scared, I Love you’ and ‘Wild Roses’ before the set closes on ‘Seabirds’ from 2016 album West Kirkby County Primary.
“I’ve got a new album, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” Bill proclaims during the performance. This is to be the artist’s first collection of original material in 5 years and, with a sense that the artist has grown into himself more and more with each passing LP to date, there is every reason to believe that he means it.
photo credit: Jack Finnigan