I’ve always been a rock fan, and that’s led to me hanging out with lots of people who are into rock music. This was never a issue when I was 13 and into Metallica, but now I’m 30 and I have a soft spot for Elbow (my 13 year old self would be thoroughly disappointed in me), it tends to mean I go on solo missions to some quieter gigs.
When I heard Johnny Flynn was playing Colston Hall (which is an awesome venue) I got straight on the tickets. Then when I heard it had sold out I thought he’d got uber-big and I’d somehow missed that. Turns out there’s a small hall in Colston Hall(s), and it’s also bloody good, but smaller and more intimate.
Sweet Baboo supported tonight. As he’s a Cardiff based artist, I feel pretty rubbish that the first time I ever saw him play live was in Bristol. He had some amazing lyrics on some crazy topics (the University of Wales’ library systems anyone?), which were really funny (“Daniel Johnston has hundreds of great songs, I’ve got 6″). This made his song about lost love all the more poignant, as did his surreal song about how giant ladybirds on houses place his love’s body on his. Plus he was very much at ease with the crowd, and his vulnerable falsetto vocals were awesome, with his voice cracking (in the right way) occasionally.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Johnny Flynn, but as an actor I thought he’d be uber-gregarious (he wasn’t, he was chilled out), and I thought his voice would be quiet and understated (it was at times, but on the whole he’s got some powerful lungs on him). He wasn’t playing with his full band (the Sussex Wit), which gave the opportunity to hear his songs in a different context – very stripped back. Songs like Been Listening sounded pretty different to the album version.
This was a good thing though. When Kings of Leon headlined Reading a few years ago, they played every song note perfect, to the extent that they had no soul, and that I might as well have had their CD on in my living room. But tonight didn’t feel anything like that – songs like the Wrote and the Writ were pretty joyous and sounded all the more alive for it.