Howie Payne, band leader, troubadour, lover of all things passed has new material to showcase, Getintothis’ Howard Doupé gets reacquainted at the Buyers club.
Many moons have passed since the days of The Stands riding in amongst the dubbed ‘Cosmic Scouse’ scene supporting long gone band Alfie upstairs in the Manchester Academy.
Tonight, 14 years on. Howie Payne returns to his beloved city, in what seems a rather subdued atmosphere in the Buyers Club.
The seated setting does it’s best to create a relaxed backdrop for the evening, although it isn’t long before it’s standing room only.
Lee Southall starts the evening with Misty Mae- a song that fits the bitter cold night outside with patchwork scenes of springtime days in carefree times. A polite and attentive crowd eagerly listen on.
Yesterday Morning seamlessly carries on the theme, whilst giving a heady nod to the songwriting songbooks of Liverpool song-smiths Paul Wilkes and Nick Ellis, en route via a John Martyn road trip.
Closing his set with some impressive technical playing, Lee exposing more and more influences in the form of Davy Graham and Bert Jansch.
Debut album Iron in the Fire is released 21st April deserves to be the soundtrack of many a Sunday morning to come, and surely will be.
The expanded crowd then hushed as Howie Payne took to the stage, starting off with Dangling Threads a highlight of his debut LP Bright Light Ballads. Tonight, the solo performance exposes a fragility in the songwriting, accompanying each track with hushed vocals that delicately set out the footprints of each melody. Playing many songs from his days fronting The Stands, including It’s Only Everything, no longer delivered with guts and youthful vigour but with an aged, life lived meaning.
Numerous new tunes throughout the evening gave the first glimpse of a forthcoming album still in it’s infancy- telling of hope in despairing times: friends known, lovers lost? Either way the empathy felt from the crowd is catching. Did you hear the pins dropping like cannonballs during The Brightest Star? Effortless.
Tonight is like listening to a worldly-travelled companion who’s graceful return home comes full of woven tales of adventures with people met along the way; of lives carefully observed.
Howie‘s songs speak of an acquired wisdom- no more evident than in tonight’s performance of Always is the Same. Not in a defining manifesto or proclamation of a greater presence – but simply a man sharing his beliefs and wanting you to hold them too. Roll on May when full band gigs are teased and make sure you catch him live then.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Martin Waters.