Gig review: Bill Ryder-Jones at Howard Assembly Room, Leeds

Bold, beautiful and painstakingly raw, the music of Bill Ryder-Jones undeniably exudes an aura of vulnerability and intense emotion.

Bill Ryder-Jones at the Howard Assembly Room, Leeds. Picture: Faith Gledhill
Bill Ryder-Jones at the Howard Assembly Room, Leeds. Picture: Faith Gledhill

With his somewhat dishevelled appearance and softly spoken yet gloriously witty interactions with the audience between songs, he is an understated yet truly exceptional talent and the beautiful, intimate setting of Leeds Grand Theatre’s’ Howard Assembly Room only adds to the already spectral atmosphere.

Songs both old and new are equally well received by the visibly captivated crowd and are delivered with a delicate yet articulated impetus. Though tonight is primarily a full band live performance, the first few tracks feature just Ryder-Jones and his guitar and perfectly portrays his remarkable skill as both musician and songwriter.

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Once joined by the rest of his band, he announces that the next four tracks are taken from his forthcoming album Yawn, and from then on it’ll be “just the hits”.

Bill Ryder-Jones at the Howard Assembly Room, Leeds. Picture: Faith Gledhill

Mither, the momentous and exceedingly fast paced introduction to what will be his fourth solo studio album, is met with a particularly raucous raw of delight. Daniel, a track from 2015’s West Kirby Country Primary is notably different; it is the story of the tragedy surrounding the death of his brother.

What is perhaps most poignant about Ryder-Jones as an artist is his ability to craft something so beautiful from an event which must still bring him so much pain. Here, and within much of his music, the vocals are prominent and conveyed with an authentic air of confidence.

Though his music so often tells tales of the pain and difficulty he has endured throughout his life, it is far from bleak; in fact, the colossal and impeccable harmonies give way to a comparatively optimistic outlook on his experiences in life so far and emit such strength. Bill Ryder-Jones has carved an extraordinarily successful career and built up an impressive reputation for his introspective songwriting abilities.

Though his name is perhaps most commonly known because of his former role as guitarist in The Coral, his solo work clearly has just as much to give... if not more.