The last time I saw Andy Burrows was at a gig at The Ruby Lounge in Manchester. The last time I was at a gig at The Deaf Institute in Manchester was to see Butch Walker play. At both those shows, my company was the person from whom this blog provided me some catharsis after she decided that she didn’t want to speak to me again. Taking an artist and a venue and putting them together meant that I was expecting memories.
One of the reasons that friend provided to me for why she decided I was a problem was that I once did her washing up for her. As well it being an “invasion”, upon further investigation she couldn’t work out what I wanted in return, what I was getting from it.
I wondered at those two shows I mentioned from a few years ago what both the acts were getting from it. Andy Burrows is someone that most people don’t know directly, but probably know of. His career started as Razorlight‘s drummer and with writing credits on some of their biggest songs. He left Razorlight in 2009 and joined We Are Scientists. Andy’s solo career started in 2008.
Not only that, he’s been a drummer on the soundtrack for Arthur and Johnny English Reborn. One of his songs appeared on the soundtrack of the film Friends With Benefits (a film I watched a few times with my ex-friend) and he co-wrote the soundtrack for The Snowman and the Snowdog which was BAFTA nominated.
Perhaps it’s my naivety, but I can’t see why he’d bother with a tour of venue supported by a few hundred fans at £14 per head. With a four person band plus a support act between which to distribute takings, it would be easy to say that it’s not worth the effort. And yet this tour was a thing, and the show at The Deaf Institute on Thursday night it was a fantastic thing.
I was at another show on Friday night, and someone asked me to review my previous night. It was hard to explain in the terms he would understand in the time I was given, I did it a disservice by saying that it was “just good”. At one point of the night, Andy apologised for not thanking the audience for their applause – “I’m a drummer,” he said, before explaining that the first thought of a drummer at the end of a song is usually to sit back and say, “f*ck you” at the expended effort!
As he finished the anecdote, he placed down his acoustic guitar which he had been playing while singing The Story Of Me And You so that he could take up his position at keyboard to cover Elton John’s Daniel as an intro to Light The Night from The Snowman and the Snowdog. Not a drummer, but a brilliant musician and a stunning songwriter.
The ease at which it all seems to come on stage also told as Jamie Lawson, invited to play a song he had co-written with Burrows, forgot his lyrics. Andy quickly swept it under the carpet with a quick piano riff, a prompted round of applause from the audience and off they went again.
I’ve got 500 words plus in to a review of a concert and not even really mentioned the music yet. The truth is that it is “just good”. An old English teacher of mine hated that description, she saw it as a cop out. I use it to describe something that does everything it should. Music should touch a nerve. It should have feeling and take you to the depths of emotion before lifting you back up with euphoric choruses. It should be executed by tight and talented bands with a stage presence and personality. That makes it “just good” music.
Highlights for me were How To Stop Time (maybe for personal reasons) and, as much as I hate to say it from this sort of show, America brought to fame by Razorlight.
But still, why bother? I sit there and think that, given the right promotion, Andy Burrows should be playing bigger venues (although not better, because The Deaf Institute is a magnificent music hall) to bigger crowds. Him and his band are good enough, and no doubt better than a lot of others attracting greater crowds at far greater prices.
The answer, for me, lies in the fact that he doesn’t need to. I don’t necessarily believe in artists selling out, despite understanding that commercial success can provide so much. But when I see a show like this, I see someone who seems to thoroughly enjoy what he does and he doesn’t need to be big and brash to get something out of it.
Sometimes that’s all you need – doing something for the want of doing it because you enjoy what it brings, even if the reward isn’t quite what one would think it should be.