Home > Reviews > Live Reviews > 23/10/2011 | Josh Pyke & Passenger – Deaf Institute, Manchester

23/10/2011 | Josh Pyke & Passenger – Deaf Institute, Manchester

Catherine May


Josh Pyke live doesn’t sound like Josh Pyke on his CDs. In fact, he sounds about a hundred times better. From the first blast of his vocals in Memories and Dust it was clear that the ARIA-nominated singer songwriter had a lot more to offer than his records suggested.

On this co-headline tour with Brighton’s very own Passenger, the two acts had been taking it in turns to lead the running order. Tonight in the intimate setting of The Deaf Institute it was Pyke who drew the supporting slot. The audience, however, seemed to be much more there to see Pyke than the native artist and more than a few seemed to break for the doors at the end of his set.

He had an hour to state his claim as a strong live performer and he certainly made the most of his time. Ploughing through songs from all three of his albums, his better known singles Middle of the Hill and Makes You Happy had at least three quarters of the crowd singing along whilst songs from his latest release were embraced by the well-informed crowd.

Alone on stage with just an acoustic guitar for company, Pyke created his own band using a loop effect. Gradually layering up percussion and vocals the overall effect had the whole crowd impressed on Clovis’ Son and closing his set with Love Lies he employed the same technique to create a whole array of backing vocals.

On record, I’ve always found Pyke’s songs to be a bit samey. I’ve never taken a dislike to any of his songs, but I’ve never really been able to differentiate them enough to find a favourite. Tonight Pyke made every song his own with little vocal tweaks and Our House Breathing became a stand out performance with its softly sung narrative.

With Pyke retired backstage, Passenger reignited the audiences energies with his mix of comedy and sadness. Rain got everyone laughing at the British weather whilst other songs offered a scary insight into Mike Rosenberg’s mind. Having never heard any of Passenger’s music before, I was impressed with his vocals and particularly taken by how humble the performer was – thanking the crowd meticulously after every song.

When he announced he was at his final song a group of slightly tipsy ladies at the front convinced him to make it two with a rare performance of Facebook. After the humour of lyrics about stalking ex-girlfriends’ profiles at three in the morning, closing number Holes seemed slightly less poignant, but the crowd participation in the chorus to fade left everyone singing as they departed.

A good pairing of two artists, particularly when they joined one another in the middle of Passenger’s set to perform What You’re Thinking, and it left me thankful that for the absence of a sub-standard support act. Despite my initial doubts, I’m actually very glad Passenger came along for the ride.

www.joshpyke.com / www.passengerofficial.com

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