This week, we sent Rich Lavery (https://twitter.com/RichieLavery) along to catch former Avail front man Tim Barry in Bristol, read on to see what he thought…
It’s raining and I’m a tad late.
I enter the venue in time to catch Sam Russo finishing one song and saying “It’s bad if I can taste blood, right?” I get the impression this is going to be a raw show. Russo’s brand of English country is perfect for his personality. He’s funny, charming, grateful, a nice guy. He finishes his set and receives warm reception from everyone in the room. I take the opportunity to grab some merch and get a closer spot towards the stage.
I’m excited to finally catch Memphis’ Cory Branan live. He’s definitely alive. He shouts. He stomps. He regularly grabs the mic and throttles it. His voice has a fantastic tone range between Johnny Cash’s syrup bassyness and Tom Waits’ cheese grater rasp. After spotting a group of fans who have followed him to the fourth date of this tour (tonight is only the fifth!) he takes requests, showing that he also is grateful, obliging, and a very nice guy. Even when one fan requests “Hold Me Down”, a song he openly admits is a struggle for him, he still delivers. It’s always incredibly satisfying to catch someone live for the first time and they give you everything you want. It’s raw. A theme is started.
Thankfully a short interval follows Cory, I manage to shuffle forward and get a spot where I can touch the monitors centre stage. Too close. Tim Barry is a giant. He appears out of nowhere and starts warming up onstage, pacing up and down, tuning, practicing parts under the house music. The greatest thing about Tim is there are no barriers. He never has a curtain or a uniform. Tonight he’s wearing working boots, rough outdoor trousers and his faded Conrail Twitty shirt; he’s a reminder that anyone can do this.
He greets the room, hesitates for a moment, and then lifts the mic stand down into the crowd following closely behind it himself. People move back and a circle forms for Tim to open with “Driver Pull” from his 40 Miler record. Everyone seems a bit stunned at what he’s done, and when he returns to the stage Tim simply requests, “Please don’t be scared o’ me.” He then thunders into his raucous “Dog Bumped” and suddenly everyone springs to life and joins in. This is followed by so many of his big songs, and he also includes “No News From The North”, “Older And Poorer” and “Solid Gone” from his latest record Lost & Rootless. Every one is received like they were old classics, and Tim expresses over and over how grateful he is. Highlights for me were “Idle Idlyist” and “Things Of The Past” which are anthems about living life to the full. There’s another song in the crowd, a broken guitar, about five requests taken, and Tim finishes a perfect set with the Rivanna Junction belter “Avoiding Catatonic Surrender”.
He’s kept up the raw commitment. He’s also the nicest guy of the night.