Tim Bowness – Prohibition Recording Studios, Liverpool – 10th June 2022
After many trips to the Philharmonic Hall and Music Room on Hope Street, with the two cathedrals standing proudly at either end, we found our way to the Prohibition Recording Studios for an evening with Tim Bowness in what’s been termed the Prohibition Sessions. The studio becomes a performance space, seating a lucky handful who’ve collected a friendly greeting, a drink from the handy bar and readied themselves to see the whites of the performer’s eyes. Up close and personal. No one is more than a few feet from the stage area.
It’s an intimate space, quirkily decorated and one that’s perfect for Tim with the subtle and sympathetic backing from Matt Stevens from The Fierce & The Dead on guitar and regular musical compadre Peter Chilvers on keyboards to deliver what was a surprise but very well plotted and cherry picked chronological trip through the Tim Bowness library of work. A legacy that noew runs across several decades andnot only a musical trip as we skirt from Warrington to Bath and Coydon, not forgetting California, Norfolk.
With Tim decked out in his standard striped shirt topped off by a leather biker jacket and welcoming us to “an evening of misery” (tongue firmly in cheek, of course) the musical moods ran the gauntlet from the wispy and reverential to the rarified zones of rock and rumble.
Intimate and relaxed, and a chronological set that took in Bowness musical and geographical journey and evidenced by the false start with the rush of words on the Plenty show opener Never Needing . Alongside Brightest Blue from his album with Richrd Barbieri, Tim was clearly going to dip into as many pots as possible including letting Matt Stevens abandon and semblance of subtlety and freak out with some fuzzy and grungy guitar (with a nod from Tim to the TV feem toon of Roobarb & Custard) on Time Travel In Texas. So much so that it got a second go as a bonus encore.
“The most unashamedly love song I’ve written…I think I was ill,” (which could apply to any number of songs…) served as the intro to Watching Over Me as the No Man catalogue was mined and Matt added a sparkly little guitar part. The spectacular tender Wherever There Is Light brought the first set to a sublime finish (and one that’s been on lop ever since) – strangely uplifting after the more experimental outing for the more ominous Days Turn Into Years from his work with Peter Chilvers. A very fine first half that boded well for another set, post leg stretch and bar visit intermission and the solo years and maybe more No Man yet to come.
With his new album delayed until August (although we’ve had a preview and it’s a belter), a couple of the more laid back pieces were debuted, showcasing one side of Butterfly Mind – Lost Player and It’s Easier To Love (the “take a breath and let it fade away” line still stuck in my mind for the car journey down) a perfect fit for the sequence. The former combining Richard Jupp’s tumble of toms with some vocal and loop effects. Hard to follow, I know after a sublime take on Rainmark from Flowers At The Scene which followed the perfect set opener The Warm Up Man Forever where Matt scrubbed at his guitar keeping time with the hypnotic beat.
How do you encore after that? One thing is not to try to run the gauntlet of the room and leave the stage, but ask the question to which you know fully well the answer. Things I Want To Tell You and Back When You Were Beautiful – just missing Photographs In Black And White to complete the holy trinity from a personal favourite No Man album. Perfect ending? There can’t have been too many complaints about the career retrospective setlist.
Whether it’s the current solo days, the No Man library of work or his earlier musical ventures, the commonality is the craftsmanship that goes into the composition and arrangements, and how they’re adapted to the Stevens/Chilvers set up – they treat them with respect but offer their own little spin on the pieces.
Fourteen songs done and dusted. And for all the highlights and personal favourites that made the final set, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. All we need now is a second night to take in another couple of sets to fill in the gaps.
Categories: Live Reviews