Bill Callahan live in Manchester – What went down?
It has been a good few years since Bill Callahan toured the UK and it was clear that he had been missed going by the near sell out crowd down at Manchester’s Albert Hall. Even the persistent rain could not keep his fans away, all eager to see the Maryland born crooner and his three piece band grace a dark and subtly lit stage to Tina Turners ‘Private Dancer’.
The band opened with ‘First Bird’, a beautiful slow burner of a track that suits Callahans deep hypnotic vocals perfectly. It was easy to draw comparisons to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in the way the vocals became more impassioned along with the beautiful musical arrangement that featured a saxophone, drums and lead guitar, alongside Bill and his rhythm guitar.
The set was a solid two hours and featured a crowd pleasing rendition of ‘Rock Bottom Riser’ the only one played during the evening from Callahan’s previous band ‘Smog’. A Hank Williams Jr cover ‘O.D’d in Denver also made an appearance mid set. It is hard to categorise Callahan’s genre wise as his style covers so many, from folk to country. His stage presence, like the on stage lighting is subtle, save for some quirky little dance moves that are endearing and allow the audience to see the passion he has for performing. Between song audience interaction is kept to a minimum, with Callahan preferring to focus on the music, barely pausing for breath between songs.
The musical journey ended with a heartfelt dedication to Mimi Parker from the American indie rock band Low, who tragically passed away on Saturday. The song ‘Riding for the Feeling’ was dedicated to her.
Bill and his band continue their tour, heading back across the pond to California in a couple of weeks time. Who knows how long it will be before we get to see him play over here again, but I certainly feel very lucky to have caught him and his talented bunch of musicians on his European leg of the tour.
All things Bill Callahan can be discovered here on his official Band Camp page HERE