Live Review: Gerry Cinnamon, Liverpool

Gerry Cinnamon, Liverpool Guild of Students, 23 March 2019

Words by Gary Lambert

It is the ethos of Popped Music to write about music that we love and would recommend to people. As our editor put it to me one day “you wouldn’t write a cook book including food you didn’t like”. It was with this in mind that I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of time trying to decide whether or not I should put pen to paper to write this review. Seriously, I sat in the car for an hour after the gig had finished debating this very point with myself, and watching a cracker of a drunken argument between a couple as they veered from blowing kisses to giving the finger with each point and counterpoint. In fact, the topsy turvy nature of that argument reflected the internal discourse that I was having. I do not like the music of Gerry Cinnamon, yet I had arguably been at one of the most enjoyable gigs I had seen in ages. It was just that I wasn’t at the level of enjoyment of everybody else in Liverpool Guild of Students.

Opening up for Gerry Cinnamon was Dylan John Thomas. Dylan is a cracking singer, and does a great job of whipping up the crowd into a frenzy with some well known covers as well as some self-penned numbers which have considerably less recognition. But I heard him last summer do the same set supporting Gerry Cinnamon, and I really want to see him push himself more. Hopefully he is doing that away from the arena of live music and we will get to see a more ambitious version of him in the future. But that is just my wish. If Dylan John Thomas wants to stick to what he is doing as it makes him and thousands of other people happy, then happiness should always win. I would say though I’d rather him cover The Stone RosesWaterfall and turn it into a folk song than do a like for like cover of say Johnny Cash. And check out his recent release, Nobody Else, which is a gorgeous love song that showcases his heavily accented talents and is very reminiscent of Scotland’s most favourite sons, The Proclaimers.

After Dylan’s set was over, we were treated to almost an hour long session of communal singing as party songs like Sweet Caroline were blasted out of the PA. The reaction for The Courteeners’ classic, Not Nineteen Forever, was so wild you would have thought that Liam Fray was on stage performing if it wasn’t for the lack of pyrotechnics. Fuelled by a pint of Coke Zero and some Chicken McNuggets, I wasn’t tempted to get involved in the excitable antics, but I knew I was in the minority by some distance. They were party songs and this was a messy party like your cousin’s 30th or your John’s lad’s 18th. I just happened to be a friend of a friend who agreed to come along for the free food, but then sat in the corner bemoaning the price of a pint whilst not making friends with anybody.

I do love how Gerry Cinnamon’s show is designed too to create this fervour within the crowd. It is exactly what they want and the use of Carmina Burana at the start of his set killed the singing and raised the heckles. Then it was time for Gerry’s entrance music. On paper, Kool and The Gang’s post-disco hit Give It Up does not seem the obvious choice, but in reality it meant that the acoustic singer-songwriter took to the stage as everybody (including me) bellowed “Gerry Cinnamon, Cinnamon, Gerry Cinnamon” like he had scored a last minute winner in a football match.

If I had not started writing for Popped Music a few years ago, I could honestly say that I would have not found any enjoyment from the music of Gerry Cinnamon. I’d have rolled my eyes like the proud music snob I was (am) and felt smug that I was not enjoying it like everybody else. But looking at gigs in a different way has broadened my horizons and mind. I am not going to claim that I analysed the performance and found a hitherto unacknowledged complexity to the songs. Definitely not. In fact, the songs are so simple and similar that each introduction and acoustic interlude is chanted along to with a simple “here we, here we, here we fuckin’ go”. It works because the beat doesn’t really change. At least to my ears as a music fan. Please don’t message me with explanations of song structure and other technicalities as you would be wasting your time because I rely on gut instinct and no musical teaching for my opinions.

Opening up this article I spoke about the purpose of Popped Music to act as a conduit for recommendations of music. Well who would I recommend go to see Gerry Cinnamon? First of all, I would recommend it to anybody who likes getting drunk and singing along with the rest of mankind as long as they don’t have an aversion to a plastic cup of beer landing on their head. Secondly, I would recommend a Gerry Cinnamon gig to every up and coming musician who wants to make a career in this industry. Too often we see very talented musicians fall by the wayside due to a lack of desire, to prefer being an enigma to being an entertainer, choosing to be aloof rather than the leader of the pack. Gerry Cinnamon could have easily been spending his Saturday night busking in Glasgow city centre playing Wonderwall for hen nights, or turning up with his trusted guitar at a favoured open mic night for a glimpse of the bright lights before going back to work on Monday. Instead, he has taken the odd lucky turn in his stride, and he has worked hard and created a loyal fanbase.

In a way, Gerry Cinnamon reminds me most of Frank Turner except that being brought up in Castlemilk is vastly different to going to Eton. For those of you who are unaware, I’ll use Wikipedia to explain the difference. Of the thirty one Notable Residents, Past and Present who are listed on the online encyclopaedia, nineteen of them are famous for being footballers whereas nineteen Eton alumni have gone on to be Prime Ministers. Frank Turner is a man who has created an intense link between artist and audience with relatively simple songs that allow people to connect with his music and each other. There is no room for liking either singer. You love them or you don’t. It is intense. But whilst Frank Turner wants you to realise that you’re not alone, Gerry Cinnamon makes you realise that you are all in it together.

It is rare to see someone enjoy themselves as much on stage as Gerry Cinnamon. You just know that here is a man who every night he goes to work clocks off thinking that he is the luckiest, happiest man on earth. Like watching George Ezra, there are times when I just want him to calm down and stop bouncing around so much. He has the energy and smile of a presenter on Cbeebies. It’s almost overwhelming. But I defy any normal human being to be able to control themselves when faced with the addictive buzz of seeing so many people go absolutely batshit crazy over songs that you have spent hours writing and perfecting. Songs like Belter which will be played in indie discos for the next twenty years.

Despite finishing off the night with a rousing Discoland, it’s the anthemic Belter which is the undoubted high point of the night. It’s a love song that everybody can relate to, which, on record, is softly sung and in sections has so little guitar playing it could be a Capella. Yet in the arena the effects added to the vocal to make it sound like there are twenty Gerry Cinnamons singing in perfect harmony on stage, and the hurricane echo from the audience obliterate the gentility to make it seem to have all the subtlety of Tom Jones blasting out Sexbomb.

As the gig finished, unlike everybody else I was neither jubilant at what had passed nor disappointed that it was finished. Instead I was filled with respect for the man who is undoubtedly the biggest independent artist in the country right now. People may like to sneer at simplicity (although they’d probably applaud if he was described as minimalist), but if it was actually as easy as Gerry Cinnamon makes it look then everybody would be doing it.

Undoubtedly, I will be seeing Gerry Cinnamon again at a festival or two this summer as he is the artist everybody wants on their bill. If there’s something else I want to watch at the same time, I’ll probably go there, but I won’t think it time wasted if there isn’t. And I might even sing, quietly and to myself, along with Belter just so I can feel part of it.

Please note: there are no photographs to accompany this review as Gerry Cinnamon chose not to have photographers at his event.

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