David Ford

Venue: The Kings Arms
Town: Salford
Dates: 12/10/15
Website: http://www.kristadetor.com/

An early power-cut at the Kings Arms Salford thrust everyone into darkness. An anxious crowd sat in candlelight anxious to know if the gig was actually going to happen. Luckily, the power returned just in time for support act Jess Morgan's set.

In a lot of ways, Jess was the perfect support for David Ford, her mellow Americana-tinged songwriting, acoustic picking and short story formed lyrics were in harmony with some of his own material. The room filled with around 100 people during her set, all standing in polite silence throughout. They paid attention to her every word, just as they would when David took to the stage for his headline set.

A cult songwriter, David is celebrating the 10th anniversary of his first solo album with a series of low key performances of the album in its entirety. The album, I Sincerely Apologise For All The Trouble I've Caused, was released following the disintegration of his pop rock band Easyworld. In Easyworld's final months, David began stockpiling a less poppy, less rocky selection of songs rather than introducing them to the band. It was these that made up the 'Apologise' album, and with a more low key, home recorded vibe, came a more intimate songwriting style.

David has never been afraid to try something new live, using eye popping techniques to distinguish himself from the average acoustic troubadour. Most notably, he has championed the use of a loop pedal to create huge soundscapes. It was during the initial Apology tour in 2005, that he introduced his looping with the audience pleasing 'Cheer Up You Miserable Fuck' and the angry, political 'State Of The Union'.

A staple of David's set ever since, 'State Of The Union' builds from gentle picked guitar, to crashing piano chords and furious harmonies. It of course gets an outing tonight, and is no less powerful or poignant. It has always been an excuse for Ford to play a rockstar and tonight he dives into the crowd. Like a evangelistic preacher, he places his hand on the head of an audience member as he screams, "preach on with the message of go fuck thy neighbour".

David admits that he likes swearing during one song's introduction, but that it hasn't helped him get radio play.

He builds 'Cheer Up You Miserable Fuck' to a football stadium-esque, crowd singalong. He begs for harmonies from the crowd, jokingly deems them as awful, before looping his own.

Looping songs aside (he occasionally builds up a percussion track to play over), David's eclectic set also includes gentle piano ballads, plucked acoustic numbers and thrashed electric guitar. The audience revels in the opportunity to hear songs that rarely get an live outing, and enjoys Ford's mid song banter.

If there's any criticism about the set, it's that a few of the songs have not aged well lyrically. Due to their age - and his age - when they were written, some are a little naive, some mildly immature.

He knows this, and admits it during the introductions to 'Katie' and 'If You Only Knew'. The otherwise beautiful 'What Would You Have Me Do' is another victim, with a couple of toe curling lyrics. Elsewhere, 'Laughing Aloud' takes forever to get to its brilliant, hooky chorus. A great song on record, it loses its power when it becomes a mid-tempo acoustic strum.

But these are minor points. 'State Of The Union' in itself packs in enough great lyrics for misgivings elsewhere, and tracks like 'Don't Tell Me' and 'I Don't Care What You Call Me' pack in enough emotion. The songs are a decade old, and it still seemed like Ford felt every heartbreaking word he sang.

After playing through the album, Ford ran through a couple of newer tracks like the excellent, early Waitsian, 'O'Sullivans Bar', and 'One Of These Days', a kindred spirit to 'What Would You Have Me Do' from someone who has spent time perfecting their lyrical craft. These newer songs demonstrated just how he has developed as a songwriter over the ten years since "Apologise".

A medley of soul and disco songs also, for the first time in the evening, gets everyone dancing and it is obvious that this small Salford crowd are looking forward to another 10 years of being entertained. Ford need not apologise for anything!

Steve Whiley

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