Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tim Bowness, Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham - 30 September

Tim Bowness, Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham - 30 September

by Pete Clemons

It is not often I can say that I have attended a gig where not one song performed throughout the entire evening has been from a latest release.

But then this is Tim Bowness who, in terms of performing, is a kind of enigma to me. His gigs are few and far between, you don’t quite know what to expect. But what you can rely on is that the whole event will be a mixture of enjoyment and intensity and performed alongside a band that has wonderful dexterity.

Tim Bowness is probably best known as vocalist and co-writer with No-Man, a long-running collaboration with Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree. And despite the lack of new material on offer this evening this was an almost faultless performance that left you feeling drained.

The gig itself formed part of a weekend of music and chat called the ‘Seventh Wave Electronic Music Festival’ and this particular evening was divided into to two sets. And accordingly the first set was totally taken up by a 30 minute plus layered, textured and improvised piece.

Opening up on a loop of Tim’s voice you really couldn’t slacken off the concentration levels for a second as each of the band namely Michael Bearpark on guitar, Andrew Booker on drums, Colin Edwin bass and Stephen Bennett keyboards displayed their individual and almost telepathic like skills throughout. It was absolutely sublime and spell-binding.

After a short break the band reappeared and treated the audience to the more familiar format of a song set. The tunes included an opening number of ‘The Great Electric Teenage Dream’ from the ‘Stupid Things That Mean the World’ album and ‘Dancing for You’ from the ‘Abandoned Dancehall Dreams’ album.

Inevitably the No-Man catalogue was also dipped into by way of ‘All the Blue Changes’, ‘Wherever There is Light’ and ‘Mixtaped’ amongst others.

But I guess the surprise of the evening went to ‘Days Turn into Years’ from the Bowness/Peter Chilvers collaboration album ‘California, Norfolk’.

And while on the subject of Bowness and Chilvers, a long awaited follow-up to ‘California, Norfolk’ is almost complete and will hopefully see light of day during 2018.

All in all 2017 has been a good year for Tim. His latest release ‘Lost in the Ghost Light’ has at long last seen him get the long overdue recognition he so richly deserves. This includes conducting more interviews than ever done previously and even seeing the artwork for his record gaining national attention by being awarded ‘Album Cover of the Year’ at the recent progressive music awards ceremony.

And all this has given rise to an interest in Plenty, the band Tim was a member of, pre No-Man and during the 1980s. In fact, two Plenty tracks made their way into early No-Man shows and one song - along with Days in the Trees - was part of the reason No-Man got signed to the One Little Indian label back in 1991.

16 of those tracks written in the 1980s have been reworked and re-recorded with all involved excited and very pleased with the results. This too will be released during 2018 if not sooner. Due to being in the autumn of life I don’t like using phrases that appear to waste time away but being honest………… I cannot wait. 

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