You will have heard of Bill Ryder-Jones. You just might not know it yet. Don’t worry though, even Bill Ryder-Jones isn’t convinced that you know who he is. Despite being on his third solo album, the poster for his UK tour still proudly states Bill Ryder-Jones (The Coral) as a pleasant reminder of his teenage talents.
I often saw Bill Ryder-Jones in my favourite café in my home town of West Kirby, the same town that inspired his latest album. I’ve always looked up to him as a reassurance that a kid from this unknown place can make it big (and by “make it big”, I mean “become friends with Alex Turner”). However, despite close geographical ties and a few mutual friends, I had never experienced his music live until now.
It was quite surreal for me to see Ryder-Jones take his place on the stage of The Cluny in front of one of the most complicated sets of loop pedals I’d ever seen. This wasn’t a man who’s living the high life with a myriad of famous pals. This was a guy who just wanted to make music away from the pressure of the limelight. Dressed in clothes he realistically could have bought during his days in The Coral, with a beer in hand, he looked as though he belonged on the intimate stage in front of a dedicated and passionate group of people, connecting with them, rather than in a huge arena.
I was worried that Ryder-Jones’s haunting melancholy was not going to go down well in my sleep deprived state, however, his music and subtle stage presence were captivating. The set featured a mix of old and new as well as a band-free segment showcasing his dulcet vocals on songs including imaginatively named ‘Put It Down Before You Break It’, while crowd favourite ‘Two to Birkenhead’ upped the tempo and had people slightly shuffling their feet, with about as much vigour as you could reasonably expect during such a laid back track.
Ryder-Jones plays with the effortless skill of someone who grew up with a guitar in his hands, something which is definitely true considering he joined The Coral at the tender age of 13 as somewhat of a child prodigy. It was blindingly obvious that his confidence lies in instrumental music as you saw him get lost in himself every time the lyrics paused. His closing number, ‘Satellites’ showcased his compositing skills perfectly with an extended instrumental section that blew the audience away. He looked almost disappointed to have to return to singing, however his lyrics, personal and powerful, resonated with the enchanted crowd.
I’m disappointed it’s taken me so long to see Bill Ryder-Jones play live and even more disappointed that I did so around 200 miles away from the town that shaped both of our lives, however, it was well worth the wait.
Photographer – Matt Flynn
I hope I can make you slightly smirk but not quite laugh.