Live Review: Louis Berry – Liverpool Music Week

Loius Berry

Leaf,  Liverpool Music Week, 31st October 2016

Words: Gary Lambert

Photos: Georgia Flynn

louis berry georgia flynnAs we are all well aware October 31st is Halloween and the night that we have to give children gifts in the shape of Fun Size Mars bars to reward them for knocking on the door in the middle of your meal. Every year it is the same one-way street where my efforts for walking to the door go unrewarded, so this year I decided to try my hand at a Popped Music version of Trick or Treat and knocked at the door of Liverpool’s Leaf Café in the hope that Liverpool Music Week would have some sweet treats for me.


Opening up the night was the blues rock of The Mysterines. I had heard good things about this band previously and I was pleased to find out that they were quite accurate reports. There was a strong southern American influence on the band, and in the most positive way possible it was difficult for me to tell at first if the singer was male or female as her voice did not fall into any of the obvious rock standard positions. As it happened, the singer happens to be female, but that matters not. These are a strong rock band and gave the night a really good start.


Second up was Jalen N’Gonda. Whilst his debut release, Holler, has been one of the several pieces that have made up the soundtrack of my summer, sometimes I have been left a touch underwhelmed by the performance that accompanies his sound. In fact, I was quite nervous for Jalen as the large crowd were giving off a vibe of natural scally scouse aggression that has probably been missing from most audiences. This though was the best performance I have seen from him though. I do not know if it was the responsibility of having the band alongside him and thus having to lead them rather than it be a one-man show, or if it is just the natural evolution given the experiences since the last time I watched a set. Regardless it was masterful. He showed how moving soul music can be without having the need for overwrought emotions or oversized choruses. It felt timeless and pure.


louis berry georgia flynnNow Louis Berry, similarly, has a retro sound, and on record has a lot of the delicacy and subtlety, but tonight was not the night for that. Instead in a room packed with his family, friends and followers Louis rattled into work with a set that seemed to be more angry Johnny Cash than the scouse Jake Bugg title that often gets lazily thrown at him. It created a celebratory party atmosphere which will undoubtedly be spoken about as one of the highlights of the Liverpool music scene for 2016, but in creating a night of excitement and enjoyment I felt that volume and frenzy made it difficult to hear the variation in his tracks beyond columns labelled “Fast Ones” and “Slow Ones”. In a way, it has actually presented an ambition for me. I want to watch Louis Berry perform in front of a different audience. One that might not cheer when references to working class life in Liverpool are made either through indifference or for their worst prejudices to be confirmed. I want to see Louis Berry perform in front of a tough crowd. This performance showed that Louis Berry has it in him to be a Liverpool Legend famed from Netherton to Netherley, but Louis Berry would be selling himself short if he took that as the height of his ambitions.


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