LIVE REVIEW: Bill Ryder-Jones @ Sage Gateshead (14.2.19) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Los Bitchos are an exciting proposition, an instrumental surf rock band equally as indebted to Deerhoof as Dick Dale. They bluster through a concise, danceable set of songs , vibrating with energy and frivolity.

Bill takes to the stage with a sort of crumpled, austere demeanour, though it doesn’t take long to work out that this is probably a hangover. Bill and his band shuffle through the gorgeous lead single from Yawn, Mither. He loosens up a little, and songs from Bill’s extensive catalogue keep coming, Catherine And Huskisson treading the line between observant melancholy and triumphalism beautifully- which is a summation of what Bill does at his best.

For the best  part, Bill is humorous and engaging,  but over the course of the set, as he wolfs a half litre of tequila left for him by Los Bitchos, things start to unravel. The funny, candid nature of his patter becomes a bit more vulnerable, the ramshackle nature of the performance starts to feel uneasy. Bill delivers his best songs, like John with a candid, self-deprecating humour, but the way he is tonight perhaps gives us more of a glimpse that we may have hoped-he is brutally dismissive of one of his songs that is requested, he speaks uncomfortably personally about his family, he seems palpably frustrated with the machinery of the industry.

There is a thin but distinct line between drinking for fun and binge drinking as a means of self-sabotage, and after seeing Bill really pour his heart out in his achingly vulnerable songs, I don’t leave the auditorium with some vindicating sense of shared catharsis- I leave hoping that he is all right and looking after himself.

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