We review Babybird live in Manchester at the Deaf Institute

This evening saw the return of Babybird to Manchester’s Deaf Institute on their current tour celebrating 25 years since the release of their album ‘Ugly Beautiful’. I was fortunate enough to catch their last show here back in November 2019 and I, along with a number of hardcore fans have been eagerly awaiting their return. 

It has been quite a journey since their last gig, but the pandemic has not prevented Stephen Jones from releasing music, in fact, quite the opposite. In the last year alone, Jones has independently released over one hundred songs on bandcamp, along with handwritten lyrics, drawings and books. It is safe to say that he is one of the grafters and is thoroughly dedicated to his fans and determined to share his art 

The band delivered an impactful two hour set which featured classic hits ‘Candy Girl’, ‘’Bad Old Man’, Unloveable’ (a beautiful, hauntingly heartbreaking track which originally saw the band collaborate with A Lister and fan Johnny Depp), and the infamous ‘You’re Gorgeous’ which, although a crowd pleaser, and inevitably the bands most famous song, is often introduced by Jones with unenthusiastic cynicism. This is understandable as there is so much more to Babybird and Jones than this one song, often confused for a love song and generally misunderstood, as like many of the songs played tonight, it has a sinister undercurrent. 

Not one to shy away from controversy, Jones touched on a variety of topics, politics, war, sexuality, his disdain at the majority of fans being over 60, and of course the pandemic in his own unique way between songs, often drawing gasps from the audience, and raucous laughter, fans have come to expect this and encourage it, not that Jones ever needs any encouragement to shock. Jones delivers the darkest of puns with a charming and warm demeanour, often self deprecating, which allows him to take things further than most. 

The evening ended with two encores, the set list featured a near 25 songs but could have included so many more. It is clear that, although he often threatens to call it a day, Jones and Babybird have no intention of throwing in the towel anytime soon. 

📸 Credit – Helen Millington