“These ones all sound pretty much the same”, Bill Ryder-Jones confesses mid-set to the half empty crowd of Edinburgh’s Mash House; the band has left the stage. There’s just Bill, his guitar and a mic as he begins to play another one of the melancholic emotional same ‘Put It Down Before YouBreak It’, a song about love and regret. At age 32 Bill is incredibly well travelled across the indie scene, joining The Coral in 1996, playing on and touring the Arctic Monkeys ‘AM’ and more. This, and a little drink, shows in his effortless stage persona as his voice meanders through the songs and over the various tuning breaks.
Bill Ryder-Jones’ latest album West Kirby County Primary recorded in his childhood home with very little post-production translates beautifully into a live show. Skipping through this record and his previous two the band goes from the bitter sweet ‘Wild Roses’ to the anthemic set closer ‘Satellites’ with ease, keeping the attentive Edinburgh crowd entranced the entire time.
The definite Pavement influence on ‘Two To Birkenhead’, from the latest album, fits perfectly into Bill’s solo repertoire. The fuzz descends into
sadness in a way beautifully mirrored by its lyrics “I like fun, where’s the fun … in being alone?”. The melody could have been composed by Stephen Malkmus himself: it’s this personal stripped down lyrical slant that makes West Kirby County Primary such a strong record and this live performance mesmerising.
Talking after the show Bill said that the attention the crowd gave him was amazing, everyone standing and enjoying the music opposed to the raucous Glasgow crowd the night before, later describing the gig on Twitter as such ‘[The] Edinburgh show last night was my favourite gig I’ve ever done.’ Bill Ryder-Jones has played plenty of sold out concerts and has many more to come on his tour but this half empty crowd at the Mash House was his favourite so far.
Gorkys, Pavement and the Arctic Monkeys, Bill Ryder-Jones has a wide range of influences and he’s quite open about discussing them. Anyone must accept that musically they’re a product of their influences and Bill gets quite existential about the whole thing after the show, after all ‘Music is like a really fucking good episode of Jonathan Creek, only without Alan Davies,’. With only the second night of the tour they had everything down and tight, and everyone – the band and audience – was happy about it.