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The Crack Magazine

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Babybird at The Cluny

Babybird, and prolific songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Stephen Jones, arrived at the Cluny on the final leg of The Bad Old Man tour this winter with support from Tony Wright of Terrorvision. This last gig of the tour did not disappoint although he did state that he would dance throughout at the prospect of returning home following the tour. Stephen Jones is undoubtedly one of the UK’s best singer/songwriters and lyricists and this intimate gig, with an eclectic band of devoted and hardcore followers, was a real gem. Despite the appalling icy cold weather, both the band and their fans were not going to miss this last gig of the tour and credit to everyone who turned up. Babybird have accumulated a huge range of brilliant material over the years and they did not disappoint by playing a setlist full of crowd pleasers across a range of albums. The Cluny was the perfect intimate venue as Stephen Jones with his witty sharp humour, storytelling and constant banter always likes to personally engage with his audience as well as encourage and provoke a response. The setlist started with ‘This Life’ and ‘Dead Bird Sings’ from early albums ‘There’s Something Going On’ and ‘Ugly Beautiful’. Then came six gems from ‘Ex-Maniac’, his fifth studio album that was released by Unison Records in 2010: ‘Unloveable’, ‘Black Flowers’, ‘Failed Suicide Club’, ‘Drug Time’, ‘Like Them’ and ‘Send Me Back My Dreams’. The crowd sang along to every word of these poignant, deep and moving crowd favourites. The long setlist also included three songs from his third album ‘Bugged’ including ‘Getaway’, ‘The F Word’ and finally ‘Eyes In The Back Of Your Head’ which he described as a song about the pitfalls and failings of the music business. Other classic Babybird songs included ‘All Men are Evil’, ‘Little Things’, ‘Out of Sight’, ‘Cornershop’, ‘If You’ll be Mine’, ‘Back Together’ and one of his favourites ‘Bad Old Man’ with its references to the evils of TV and media broadcasting.

For an encore, there is always someone at a Babybird gig that will shout out ‘You’re Gorgeous’ at some stage, which will result in a few boos and an immediate well rehearsed lecture by Stephen Jones on the real meaning of the song having nothing whatsoever to do with love or affection. Despite his long reluctance in the past, he played it and sung it really well along with the crowd. On the surface, it is a very catchy love song with global appeal and he admits he makes a bit on royalties! He finished his encore with ‘The Way You Are’, which was about children growing up, and finally a mosh pit dancing favourite ‘Goodnight’. Throughout the gig, Stephen Jones clearly put everything into it. He has an outstanding voice range as well as stage presence. His deep lyrics take in everything from grief, loss and despair, to the clever, moving and funny. If you ever get the opportunity to see Babybird then you must take it. Stephen Jones is an absolute lyrical genius and he was on top form tonight. All his songs were awesome with no fillers or mediocrity in the setlist. Despite stating, like he does at every gig about his age and it being his last ever gig, this bad old man can still sing like a bird (dead) and rumours abound about another forthcoming Babybird tour in May. Get there if you can.

Stewart Douglas

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