mon 26/07/2021

Rag‘n’Bone Man, Jazz Café review – powerful first post-lockdown gig | reviews, news & interviews

Rag‘n’Bone Man, Jazz Café review – powerful first post-lockdown gig

Rag‘n’Bone Man, Jazz Café review – powerful first post-lockdown gig

Like a pint of Camden Pale Ale after months in the desert

Rag'n'Bone Man at Camden's Jazz CafeCopyright Laura Palmer

Rory Graham’s first words as he comes on stage are: “Well this is a bit weird, isn't it? It's been a while.” After a run of cancelled gigs, the band haven’t performed live for a year and a half – which feels, says Rory, “a bit like missing a testicle.”

Anatomy aside, we all get it. While I knew how much I had missed live music, the depth of intense emotional response to this band's sound and lyrics; the overwhelming energy connection between artist and audience and the transformative healing power of music is another level at this gig.

There is a chemistry in the Jazz Cafe that I have never felt. It is as if we are all seeing live music for the first time, as if we have been reborn and have never experienced that pause just before the chorus kicks in; felt the bass reverberate through every fibre of our beings; got goosebumps from the range and harmonies or been so transfixed on the velvet and gravel of this particular voice.

Opening with the awesome bluegrass infused “Fireflies”, we hear songs from new album Life By Misadventure, alongside classic sing-alongs from 2016’s Human. Personal songs about impending parenthood (“Changing of the Guard”) and honest self-exploration (“Talking To Myself”) are balanced with a rootsy Americana and classic rock sound.

Between songs Rory keeps saying to people, “how are you doing?” And it is so loaded. It’s a genuine question – he knows we’re all fucked, but he’s basically showing he cares and is grateful for an audience willing to re-emerge back into this new normal and show up to a gig. Truth is, we appreciate being here so much more than we ever would have, had we not been so starved of beauty, inspiration and the live music environment. With every note, word, song, I feel like a thousand tiny padlocks in my heart are springing open.

“Alone” speaks to every single one of us in a way that it never would have before the isolation and distance of the past year and a half – this song brings us back together and all we can think about is the relief that we're not actually alone anymore. I am crying with people I didn't know until this moment. I am hugging my best mates. Each note resonates through us and is absorbed into the bricks of Camden and we are all ecstatic.

By the time “Anywhere Away From Here” plays the tears are flowing freely as the release of so much pent up emotion spills out and we begin to acknowledge the joy of strangers as our own, the same way we are experiencing every detail of the keyboard players' facial expression, the guitarists’ beard, the glow of the backing singers.

Everything has changed and our response to music has changed. In “Time Will Only Tell”, the refrain of “are we listening to ourselves” (delivered after the prophetic line “time gave us no warning”) makes us realise that maybe now, after spending so long being able to do only that, perhaps we are.

I am crying with strangers. I am hugging my best mates. Each note resonates through us and is absorbed into the bricks of Camden and we are all ecstatic.

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters