A typically rainy Thursday spring evening in Manchester’s Northern Quarter could not dampen the spirits of a hoard of fans who flocked to Night and Day to see Babybird on their latest UK tour. It would appear that the weather or a six hour car trip from Cardiff (where they had performed the previous evening) hadn’t dampened the spirits of the band either. Lead singer, Mr Babybird himself, Stephen Jones was in a chirpy mood and kindly allowed me to watch the band warm up prior to a quick photoshoot in Night and Day’s infamous green room, a pretty big deal for someone who has followed this band since they formed back in the mid nineties!
Support this evening came from Terrovision’s Tony Wright with his acoustic act who performed an eclectic mix of folk-rock tunes reminiscent of a Yorkshire Flight of the Conchords crossed with Tenacious D…it worked! Tony worked the crowd, sharing anecdotes between songs which were endearing and hilarious. The themes varied from love and loss to bizarre encounters with men on park benches in the early hours. I am fairly certain that by the end of their set and the favourable reaction from the crowd, the duo had acquired a few new fans.
With his music once described by Johnny Depp as “unnerving, but oddly comforting” Stephen Jones certainly fills that description in person, in a good way I must add! There is something mysterious about Jones. His on stage presence is darker, moodier and angst filled with hints of satire that make for fucking hilarious between song chat. Never lost for words, (well, perhaps after song one when an excitable fan screamed like a banshee, his cool demeanour wavered slightly) but he was soon back in full swing with his waspish observations about Manchester, the audience, and current affairs which is what has endeared and gained him a hardcore fanbase over the last thirty years.
“This is perhaps the happiest song I have ever written” Jones quips, before launching into “Failed Suicide Club”. Although dark humour prevails throughout, you cannot help but be moved by the content of the majority of the songs. The Babybird back catalogue is awash with emotionally charged material that could bring even the hardiest to tears. The content could never be described as ‘easy listening’, I challenge anyone to listen to ‘Bad Old Man’ without squirming, but Jones revels in making unconventional music and touching on subjects that so many would avoid, again a reason why so many have packed out this venue on a school night!
The band have recently released some unheard lo-fi versions of their most famous tracks which can be purchased via their band camp. Jones is one of the hardest working blokes out there, constantly releasing songs and EP’s on band camp, as well as working on numerous side projects. It is well worth subscribing for the vast content alone. The band continue their UK tour with dates in Leeds and London, and all information can be located HERE