Bill Ryder-Jones: Upper Chapel Unitarian Church, Sheffield

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Bill Ryder-Jones

Bill Ryder-Jones took his new record Yawny Yawn to South Yorkshire last week, Getintothis’ Amelia Vandergast was there to observe and admire.

It seemed remarkably fitting that my first time seeing Bill Ryder-Jones live was in a Unitarian church; a place constructed to offer shared spiritual experiences while respecting individualistic freedom of belief.

There may be many musicians prepared to sell you the idea that they are deities, but thankfully, there are also those who use their talent to dilute the sufferance of those who attend their shows by offering a collective experience. Bill Ryder-Jones’ show in Upper Chapel Unitarian Church on October 4 offered the latter.

I made many assumptions of what I would take away from the show after putting the new album Yawny Yawn on repeat and finding catharsis in the comfortingly resonant singles Don’t Be Scared, I Love You, and No One’s Trying to Kill You.

I prepared for a sombre evening listening to sullen renditions of their delicately accordant songs. only to find that it wasn’t really about their deft ability to hit piano keys so that they strike with maximum soul-piercing impact. And it definitely wasn’t just a case of bodies warming wooden pews listening to a one-sided aural conversation.

I’m fairly certain that I’ll never forget what it felt like to sit there in the solace of knowing that everyone in the room felt magnetised by Bill Ryder-Jones’ music for the same reason.

Usually, at live shows, you’ll hear some variation of “how are we doing out there?!”, or “are we having a good time?” which is subsequently followed with a generic emission of sound that’s supposed to resemble euphoria.

But attendees feeling as melancholic as the soundscapes didn’t need to slap on a smile and satiate the artist’s ego.

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It was simply enough to be there and take in the sentimentality of the music and admire Bill Ryder-Jones’ effort to lighten the mood with their impossibly endearing comedic observations. I laughed as much as I cried, and I’m pretty sure I won’t get to say that about any other live show any time soon.

As touching as it was to hear him candidly open up about his own mental health, it was frankly beautiful to hear an artist expressing regret that there are those too anxious to attend their shows alone.

Speaking as someone with quite the arsenal of mental afflictions and someone who frequently attends shows alone, I really can’t urge people enough to follow suit – especially with Bill Ryder-Jones’ shows.

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