Far Out headed to Manchester’s Gorilla to catch composer, producer, former Coral guitarist and esteemed solo artist, Bill Ryder-Jones, at the finale of a long touring schedule that has accompanied his West Kirkby County Primary album.

It was almost a shock to check back and discover that the record actually came out in 2015, with it having been a constant on the Far Out jukebox over the last 11 months, in many ways soundtracking a turbulent year.

Following this curtain-closer and a couple of upcoming support slots with Super Furry Animals, this Manchester showing is no doubt the last we will get until a new release is on the horizon.

But in keeping with the last duo of LPs Ryder-Jones has treated us to, tonight’s set is a minimalist, no frills affair that instead hits the audience through subtlety and poignancy.

2013’s A Bad Wind Blows in My Heart kicks things off with its title track and a piano-less ‘He Took You in His Arms’, providing a sing-along moment within the first ten minutes of the set.

The latest album features a more fuzzed-up aura that peaks and troughs in an almost Pixies-esque manner. Quiet verses with quivering vocals are punctuated with roaring choruses and grunge-tinged guitars, the first example of which we hear comes in the shape of ‘Let’s Get Away From Here’.

Although he’s here to mark the end of an album cycle, those awaiting his next move with baited breath are given a glimpse of what is to come with a couple of new tracks thrown in. ‘There Are Worse Things’ proves to be a delightful trip into the unknown.

As the night progresses, Ryder-Jones turns to the big-hitters from West Kirkby County Primary to raise the roof. Singles ‘Two to Birkenhead’ and ‘Wild Roses’ are encapsulating, while the lyrically heartbreaking ‘Daniel’ produces a melancholic feeling of euphoria.

It hasn’t been a night for rock ‘n’ roll extravagance, with Ryder-Jones instead simply being himself and doing it perfectly, but the set’s closer gives us the closest thing to a full-on wig-out courtesy of the thrilling build of ‘Satellites’. In typically understated fashion there is no need for an encore, but his thanks to an adoring crowd is infinitely genuine. Ta-tah for now.

Patrick Davies

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