Liam Frost's Saturday night show at the Deaf Institute saw him reveal a number of tracks from his forthcoming Latchkey Kids album project as well as old favourites in a set full of anecdotes, self-deprecating jokes and an audience member fainting. Support came from Francis Lung.
By the end of Francis Lung's short set the room has filled up from a dozen or so at the start and it's hoped those that came in during it appreciated what they had been missing. There's something unassuming about the craft behind their songs, but it's precisely that which charms the listener. The songs are beautifully crafted, particularly one he tells us is about "suffering at the hands of someone really annoying" and the one that declares that "sleep is better than life." There's lots of subtle influences at play, but none which overpower or suffocate them. It's been the best part of two years since the debut EPs so hopefully some new material will see the light of day soon.
Liam's on good form as ever, questioning whether anyone had spiked the drink he'd left on stage at the start of the set. Tonight was meant to be a band performance of the new album, but as it's still being mixed they hadn't had time to actually rehearse the songs to play live so he decided to strip it back down to a solo gig and use it as an opportunity to both introduce us to songs from the record as well as give us some old favourites.
The opening block of songs are a mix of the new new and old new, Who's Gonna Love You and When I'm Alone were slated to feature on the Latchkeys record in re-recorded form from his last solo EP so they have a familiarity with the crowd that helps the early set attention when people are expected to stand at an acoustic gig and not talk. There's virtually none of that tonight, such is the hold Liam has on the crowd, whether it be during the new or old material, some of which generates a polite singalong. A woman passes out in the middle of When I'm Alone, which causes Liam to stop and an interruption about five minutes while she's tended to (she returns later so hopefully it was just a one-off).
It's the songs we haven't heard that really stand out though. There's a lot of love for the songs from his first two albums, rightly so, but the new songs seem certain to carve a similar place in the hearts of his dedicated fan base. Without diverting too far from the path of those two records, the likes of Didn't It Rain?, Follow You Around and Lover Trouble Knows My Name as well as the two singles revealed The Slow Knife and the set-closing Smoke, feel immediately familiar, but also a step forward in the ten years since We Ain't Got No Money came out. His voice has deepened and is stronger live than ever before especially when it seems he's so into the songs that he's unaware of the audience around him.
It's tough at any level, ask Liam's good friend and part namesake Fray about the albatross of St Jude, to break free from the songs that people first fell in love with, but it feels like the time Liam has spent since then, including his Tokolosh project and a lot of time out of the public eye, hasn't dulled his creative spirit.
There's plenty of rooms for old favourites including some that are seldomly aired (even by Liam's seldom gigging standards). The Mourner's Of St Paul's is dedicated to a guy who lent him a guitar for the show and is still, thirteen years on, one of the most affecting and sad but uplifting songs to come out of a city that's got decades of them to compare to. Roadsigns and Redlights and If Tonight We Could Only Sleep both get hearty cheers of recognition as he strikes up the first chords, whilst Skylark Avenue feels even more intense in this stripped back form.
Leading Lights And Luminaries, a beautiful song from We Ain't Got Money that reflects on the nature of the songwriting business and perhaps an allusion to his comment recently about being a "best kept secret", sees him change the lyric to "it's 34 and it's not happened yet." It's this self-effacing humour that has us warming to him even more, joking about his impressive country shirt making women faint and the time his Mum shot down some lads at a festival who said he wasn't working class and from a council estate (he's from Kersal).
That story of not having had the breaks is one that many songwriters bemoan, yet with Liam Frost, it always feels that one of the most genuinely talented ones to emerge from our city is more than justified in cursing his luck. Yet, whilst many would have chucked in the towel before now, on the evidence tonight, he's about to release material that's at least the equal of anything he's done so far in his career.
Liam Frost can be found on Facebook, Soundcloud, Youtube and Twitter. The website can be found here and the Pledge Music campaign is now live.
Our recent interview with Liam can be found here.
Francis Lung are on Facebook and Twitter.