Well, let me start off by saying that this was my first visit to Manchester Cathedral, and very impressive it is too. I've always preferred the smaller, more intimate gigs, and despite it's loftiness, the venue conveys that feel 100%. I was also lucky enough to be able to secure a front row seat, which was amazing.
I'd not been to see Bill Ryder-Jones solo previously, despite having bought his first two albums, and in addition to that I've also just finished reading Italo Calvino's "If On A Winter's Night A Traveller" so this really was a double treat for me.
The gig follows the album through, song by song, with linking narration taken from the novel provided by none other than actor John Simm, who I admire immensely. As this was the first time I'd heard "If" since reading the novel, I have to say that I did get a lot more out of it, and a wry smile crossed my face on many occasions as I realised what a particular line meant! I won't spoil any details here, but would seriously suggest you read the novel if you haven't done so already, and then listen to the album again. Be warned though, it messes with your head a bit!
So, onto the gig itself. The Manchester Camerata with conductor Timothy Redmond absolutely blew me away. The sound range was rich and deep and quite different from the album version of "If". Bill Ryder-Jones has such a wonderfully fragile voice, that perfectly complements the accompanying soundtrack, and I felt completely emotionally involved with the story, as if I was indeed the reader in the novel.
So overall, I was very impressed with the whole evening. Bill is indeed a rare talent, who deserves to go far. I have already booked tickets to see him again at the Deaf Institute in December on the strength of "If". Hope to see you there!