The friend of RGM is having quite a successful 2023 what with a support slot across America and Europe with Louis Tomlinson and the release of his debut album Waiting For The Rain from Pete Doherty’s label Strap Records which shot straight into the Top 100, a not insignificant achievement with todays charts mainly dominated by major label streams.
Tonight the tour lands in Leeds at Wardrobe, one of Leeds’s best live venues, small enough to be intimate but big enough to host some big names over the years. The tours are almost over now and with every date so far going better and better, just Leeds, Sheffield, Glasgow, Manchester, and a hometown gig in Newcastle remaining so no pressure then…
Opener Keiran Bowe is a fellow Geordie singer/songwriter, they seem to be banging them out by the handful up there currently. With both him and his band looking like their barely out of short pants there’s a surprising maturity in the performance from the off with Barcode.
Slower songs like One That Got Away show his craft off well but others including latest release Nostalgia show a different rockier direction Keiran and his band are capable of, all promising stuff and well worth getting down early to catch if you see him supporting anyone and indeed worth a punt if they’re headlining themselves.
the Lilacs follow, hailing from Wigan, again another location that seems to be growing talent with the likes of The Lathums and nearby Leigh’s The Lottery Winners both drawings larger and larger audiences & climbing further up festival billings and going by the opener it’s clear the Lilacs will be following shortly. As I gazed across the crowd there’s a large section of pie eaters in the audience here tonight who have made the trip over the Pennines to see them and the crowd erupts and deservingly so as they hit the crowd with tracks like Sticky Dancefloors. Red Flags & Warning Signs, Grace and ending on Vicarage Road
Their sound is not dissimilar to Sheffield’s The Reytons, and on tonight’s performance, they deserve the same level of success.
Andrew Cushin, as previously mentioned is absolutely no stranger to us peeps at RGM Towers with many of us here catching him somewhere, at some point. His touring schedule has been nothing short of prolific, grabbing any supporting role he possibly could do with many bands and artists (looking around there are a few Slow Readers Club Tees in the audience, who he supported on their last tour) but now it’s his and the bands time to shine from the top.
Given earlier that clearly a large part of the crowd was here to see the Lilacs and some will have since understandably left as it’s a Sunday night there’s still a very respectable amount of folk in the building, always a worry for a band when the support already has decent following especially as Andrew has chosen a stage time of 9.45 to make an appearance, it’s a good job he hasn’t got 4 albums worth of material or we’d be here all night but finally the walk on music kicks in – Kasabians Club Foot.
The debut album opener also opens tonight’s proceedings with Let Me Give It To You kicks and the audience is instantly dancing and singing along. From the off it’s obvious there’s been a lot of thought and effort gone into this tour, the sound is fuller than it ever has been, the musicianship so much tighter and Andrew is looking and sounding every bit of the Rock Star he’s out to be.
You Don’t Belong has had a makeover and sounds sharper than it ever has done before and there’s no restbite from the opener, as the songs are hitting one after another as Catch Me If You Can is now the 4th track in and not one single bit of familiar banter has left his mouth yet, it’s just shock and awe before things slow down for Dream For A Moment.
Now it’s not often Andrew is lost for words but as he starts to approach the mike to finally address the audience a female voice from the crowd greets him with “Go on Andrew Ya Sexy Cunt!” It stops him mid-track causing him to turn on his heels and head straight to the back of the stage shaking his head in shock before returning to the mike laughing and asking “Who said THAT?” much to the dismay of the girl’s boyfriend.
It’s Coming Around Again keeps it low-key. and after he explains how the 1st song he ever wrote at 16 set him on his way, Waiting For The Rain. It sets the scene for a very special moment between man and audience which briefly stops as Andrew checks in with one of his young superfans who has special needs causing him concern but all’s good so round 2 and it’s business as usual and the crowd take over the singing.
The next moment the audience throws Andrew off track comes as he’s explaining his favorite moment of the tour “Where we can make it a Special Moment, you’ve just got to” and from the audience comes “LALALA” stopping him in his tracks once more, “Doesn’t sound so special now does it?” He responds it is, of course, Wor Flags.
4.5% takes it right down, redone for the album but it’s lost none of its original impact, literally a sobering moment and clearly, Andrew still feels every word as his voice still cracks during its performance. and he has a moment with his arms around his head facing the back of the stage at the end of the song, suddenly he’s not the rockstar anymore but that upset young man the song is about once again, as he later explains how difficult it is still is for him to sing some songs after You’ll Be Free and it’s the audience that helps him get through them as he finishes of the emotional section and the end of the main set quite literally with The End.
Not wanting to end on a low, Andrew is back for the encore solo as many will have only seen him perform as, and begins it with an acoustic version of I Want You To Be There followed by Memories during which the band returns to the stage to join in and the whole show is finished on with the song that smashed the doors down for him in a difficult industry, Where’s My Family Gone.
As much as I hate the phrase, “it’s been a journey” it genuinely has been a privilege being there from the early days watching Andrew perform a support slot playing with Bang Bang Romeo, through to seeing the early days with him and his mates who he formed into his band play a private set for a good friend of mine who is now part of his team to releasing a fantastic album and get to headline a decent sized tour to promote it.
Success stories like this when your passion is grassroots music is sadly quite rare but the feeling of watching someone grow as an artist and climb the ladder in today’s industry makes it all worthwhile and this lad is going straight to the top of the back of performances on nights like these, that is without a doubt!