‘I was told only ten people were coming' - 1980s post-punk star beats first-night nerves at Bristol gig

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Barry Adamson opened his UK and EU tour at Bristol’s Strange Brew venue

‘Go on Bazza’ was the reassuring cry from one fan in the crowd as the nervous star of the show asked if somebody could get him a bottle of water. ‘I’m parched already,’ laughed Barry Adamson after opening song These Would Be Blues.

Despite playing to audiences since the 1970s, Adamson confessed that he was still suffering from first-night nerves.

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This was the first night of his UK and EU tour to promote acclaimed new album Cut to Black. He hadn’t performed live for a while and it took a few songs for the seasoned musician to get back into the groove.

Adamson still isn’t a household name but he has achieved something of a cult status with hardcore music fans over more than 40 years. 

Barry Adamson on stage at Strange Brew in BristolBarry Adamson on stage at Strange Brew in Bristol
Barry Adamson on stage at Strange Brew in Bristol

A musician, composer, writer, photographer, actor and filmmaker, he made his name with influential post-punk band Magazine in the late 1970s before joining Visage, The Birthday Party and then Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds in the early 1980s.

His early solo albums, such as Moss Side Story, were critically acclaimed and Soul Murder was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. As well as a successful solo career, he has been in demand for film soundtracks and worked with Hollywood directors including David Lynch and Oliver Stone.

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Musically, Adamson fuses a wide range of influences including funk, big band jazz and 1960s film soundtracks. There are also elements of hip hop, punk and just about every other musical style of the past half century.

During an acoustic version of Sundown County, Adamson even threw in a cover of T.Rex’s glam rock classic Hot Love, the audience joining in with the ‘la la la’ chorus.

On stage with a drummer and bass player for just over an hour, the 12-song set covered his entire solo career, from old favourites like The Beaten Side of Town and Civilisation to new songs Demon Lover and Manhattan Satin from the latest album, released last week.

‘I was told only ten people were coming tonight,’ joked the surprised Manchester musician, adding that he was ‘made up’ that there were well over a hundred fans packed into Strange Brew.

After a brilliant encore of Jazz Devil, Adamson, who turns 66 next month, was gone. ‘It’s way past my bed time,’ he grinned as fans shouted for more long after the lights came up.

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