Promoting his 10th studio album, ‘Cut to Black’, Barry Adamson played a more intimate and quiet date in Hertfordshire following his packed London show at Jazz Cafe the night before.

He went straight into his new material with ‘These Would be Blues’; now with a live drummer and bassist, it had crashing, artillery drums (although a couple of drums rolls would have been even more enhancive). He sang the chorus over the gospel backing track which differs from the record and then onto the bossy beats of ‘Manhattan Satin’ – one of the best songs on the album –  playing some dislocated guitar strokes and vocally sampling ‘Psycho Killer’ by Talking Heads, playing on the New York City theme.

The band performed Adamson’s new, jabbing single, ‘Demon Lover’, with him performing a guitar solo and scat singing. The album’s title track, ‘Cut to Black’, despite sorely missing a live keyboard player, contained rusty, weirdo guitar which more than compensated for this; the live rendition sounded better than the recorded version. Adamson then trailed to his back catalogue with his critically acclaimed album, ‘Back to the Cat’, with the slow blues of ‘The Beaten Side of Town’.

For a change in mood, he performed solo on acoustic guitar, with ‘Sundown Country’, which he then transported into a cover of T-Rex’s ‘Hot Love’. He remained on acoustic, backed with his band for new track, ‘The Climber’; a ballad written during the pandemic about the widespread grief at that time. After the big band vibes of ‘Straight ’til Sunrise’, Adamson returned to the new album with its main single, ‘The Last Words of Sam Cooke’: it was missing its more tinny Magazine drum intro but featured a guitar solo as on the record.

Ending his short set, Adamson played some favourites from his 1998 album, ‘As Above So Below’, with ‘Civilisation’, and an encore of big band jazz anthem, ‘Jazz Devil’. Whilst performing more soundtrack artistry live is always a challenge and backing tracks sometimes take over, this was compensated for by Adamson’s guitar playing, vocals and charm, and one can only hope that one day he performs his music with the large instrumentals it surely deserves.

25/05/24: Barry Adamson @ Hertford Corn Exchange.

Photos © Fernanda Bavaresco (photographed at Jazz Cafe).

© Ayisha Khan.