The King of Nothing Hill arrived. The new CD from the King of ‘nocturnal’ jazz Barry Adamson is fused with ambient electro, techno and funk beats. Armed with sleaze, sounds and spoken words straight from the streets of Brixton or Notting Hill, (I am not quite sure which streets he found his passion), the man backed up by a band of jazz, cruised through the set placing many musical sparks on stage.
The man clad in glamour and dark sunglasses played mainly new numbers and leaving the audience missing The Man with the Golden Arm, These Boots are made for Walking and more from Moss Side Story, old gems reinvented by Barry and splashed back on to the dance floor or as a sound track to imaginary films.
However that is not to dismiss the new songs as boring or rather forgotten but to emphasize that with the decades this man’s music journey hasn’t faded but grew strong flavoured and funky. The new songs were about forgotten loves, sleazy Paris lanes, being a musical Lucifer, babes and the streets of misfortunes. Sounds like a Tarot Card Reading? The songs spelled life: experience, surrealism, battle of the soul and imagination backed up by funk, electro pop, dub and a whole lot of jazz.
The sparks flew slowly at the start of the gig with the entourage of six or so musicians (coincidentally all wearing matching Hawaiian shirts, cigars being replaced by instruments and the only one wearing a gold chain and a bare chest, being the king himself). It was almost pure shyness from the musicians floating around and infecting the audience who were only shaking their thumbs at first. As the sounds got more hot-tempered and the instruments came out of hibernation, the show improved its performance potential and got the audience to at least shake their hips a little bit to the right and a little bit to the left.
Roaming ‘paparazzi’ rather than dancers swamped the audience more. Behind me everywhere the sounds of cameras clicking drowned my hearing. Especially one fan at the front snapping away at Barry’s crotch, (isn’t there always one at the front of the stage having a visual picnic?) received a phone call during the show from obviously some friend who had to work that night and couldn’t make it to the gig but got to hear a whole chunk from the concert via the funk held out at Barry’s feet. He found it amusing and made sure he turned himself and the band up. The set was short, sweet but sweaty as Barry’s energy provoked the stage as if on fire. By the end of the night, his shirt was sticking to his open chest; his temples were wearing beads of sweat as he gave it all he got.
To all Barry Adamson fans out there I recommend the new album with the tongue-in-cheek name, The King of Nothing Hill. To all the dyslexic fans out there, it will probably slap you over the head as, The King of Notting Hill. Spoken Word is more dominant than on his previous albums, which is such a pleasure as Barry’s voice sounds as smooth, sweet and sexy as nougat love hearts, apple strudel with cream and even more. A hot chocolate dipped in a cup of sugar. Too many food and chocolate fantasies here? And where do they come from? God knows but deep down that’s how I felt like after the concert, not the desire for drugs, beer, wine or champagne that most concerts instill inside me. I suppose it is a tribute to the new songs but hearing them was like having a scrumptious feast. One cannot stop at one and as an obsessive fan of his music I must hear them over and over again. Seeing Barry Adamson, as the front man was a new experience as I remember his talent, hiding behind the infamous and charismatic Nick Cave, when Barry was a shy yet musically talented member of the Bad Seeds.
Barry was always the man behind the buttons, pushing them for Anita Lane back in 1992 for These Boots are made for Walking or for cult and independent films that he bestowed his sexy songs upon. He pushed the buttons of fame for the very esoteric yet harmonious group of girls, Miranda’s Lost Garden after he found their hats stayed empty while busking at Portobello Road Market.
So fixing my gaze on Barry behind a microphone wrapped around his thighs, talking, screeching his sentiments while extending his arms, begging for participation and understanding, tripping over leads and nodding his head at his musicians who were trying to please him first before pleasing the audience, was a delight. “Before a concert he won’t let us touch a bottle so we don’t fuck up.” The musicians spoke the truth as we were getting to know them while they were swinging their first bottle of wine on the stairs of the Loft. Then we quickly kidnapped and dragged them to a very typical German pub around the corner where only sailors and workers go and pay 1.80 euro for a half litre of Hefe Weizen beer. Much cheaper than in the pubs of Notting Hill? What about on Nothing Hill?