Review of Bill Callahan live at The Deaf Institute, Manchester 24-08-09
Nearing the completion of a successful European tour promoting latest release Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle, Texas-based musician Bill Callahan (formerly Smog) would find himself at the hands of a full house at Manchesterâs Deaf Institute.
Support came courtesy of female solo artist Sophia Knapp. The Brooklyn based musician might not have set the place on fire, but her graceful folk ballads appeared to warrant a polite and warm response from the audience.
The subtle theatre flavours of this fantastic intimate venue provide a perfect backdrop for the music of Bill Callahan and with the place absolutely rammed, Bill took to the stage with full band (drums, cello, violin and additional guitar). Callahanâs set-list relied heavily on the new record - cue songs such as: âJim Cainâ, âToo Many Birdsâ, âRococo Zephyrâ, âEid Ma Clack Shawâ, âAll Thoughts Are Prey To Some Beastâ and âThe Wind And The Doveâ (featuring Sophia Knapp) . The crisp drums and lush strings provided a wonderful foundation for Callahanâs warm baritone and all the fresh output seemed to bode very well with the fixated audience.
Of course, there were a few Smog classics. âDiamond Dancerâ, âRock Bottom Riserâ and âBathysphereâ all got an airing. And the encore saw more of the same, âOur Anniversaryâ led to the crowd-pleasing closer âCold Blooded Old Timesâ from the acclaimed Knock Knock album.
With a great venue, an appreciative crowd, a deeply satisfying set-list and a sterling performance from Bill Callahan and friends, itâs hard to look for negatives from a gig that ticked all the right boxes. Excellent.