Manchester International Anthony Burgess Foundation
Saturday May 11th 2013
It’s been two and a half years since Liam Frost’s last solo gig. As he prepares songs for his third album, he ventured to the unique surroundings of The International Anthony Burgess Foundation to dust down some old favourites.
It was one of the mysteries of the late 2000s why Liam Frost, with his Slowdown Family band on his debut album Show Me How The Spectres Dance and its follow-up We Ain’t Got No Money, Honey, But We Got Rain, never made a commercial breakthrough. Both albums are filled with classic singer-songwriter material with potential hit singles liberally sprinkled across them.
The show is opened by the wonderful Hannah and Lois, who treat the hushed reverential audience to eight fragile tales sung by Hannah whilst playing ukulele or piano and Lois on harp. There’s an affecting innocence and infectious nervousness to them that charms the crowd. Hopefully we’ll get to hear a lot more of them in the future.
There’s an expectant buzz when Liam takes to the stage and he’s on good form tonight. The set is focused around the first album, of which eight tracks and two associated b-sides are played, which suits itself more to the solo approach. He interchanges between acoustic and two electric guitars and there’s a little of the rustiness of not having played solo for two years in sorting the pedals out between songs, which he laughs off with his own unique charm.
He banters with the audience, responding to someone asking if they could sing along by telling them they can, but that the pro’s up on the stage and he tells the story of how he relearnt songs because someone asked him to teach him how to play an old b-side in order to propose to his girlfriend by playing it.
The songs themselves sound fantastic. New song Lover’s Luck, the only one previewed tonight, bears all the hallmarks of his best material, beautifully crafted, intelligent sensitive lyrics and a voice bursting with emotion. The songs off the second album are reworked for the acoustic approach, Your Hand In Mine by necessity due to the absence of Martha Wainwright. We’re also treated to a cover of Sade’s No Ordinary Love. The crowd reserve their best reception for the songs off the first album though in particular The Mourners Of St Paul’s, the hit single that never was, which completes the main part of the set.
It’s hard to believe that it’s seven years since Liam first broke through. He looks leaner and fitter now than he’s ever done and hopefully the break since the last album and the experience of playing with his band Tokolosh will have reinvigorated his desire to go and play his songs to people. Tonight was a brilliant comeback.
Liam plays another show tonight at the Anthony Burgess International Foundation in Manchester and has announced two shows in October which he revealed will be with a band and showcasing more new songs. They are at London St Pancras Old Church on October 2 and Manchester Deaf Institute on October 4.
Liam played :
Slow Slowly Slow
Your Hand In Mine
Shall We Dance?
Try Try Try
The City Is At Standstill
Is This Love
At First It Felt Like Darkness
This Is Love
No Ordinary Love
If Tonight We Could Only Sleep
The Mourners Of St Paul’s
All words and photos by David Brown. You can see more of David’s work on Louder Than War here