The Barry Adamson show is something of an acquired taste. The Mancunian child of the punk era was part of the original Magazine line-up, joined Howard Devoto in his next project Luxuria, powered Visage through their New Romantic classic "Fade to Grey", and was among the first barrel of Nick Cave's Bad Seeds.
His solo career began with 1989's Moss Side Story and his signature mix of jazz, electronics and soundscaping on Oedipus Schmoedipus, As Above So Below and 2002's The King of Nothing Hill took him through the Nineties, alongside a lengthy CV of film scores – from Derek Jarman's mid-Eighties apocalypse The Last of England through to David Lynch's Lost Highway.
Now he is artist in residence at the London Jazz Festival, opening the first of two gigs with a performance of his yet-to-be-released, as-yet-untitled new album. It's a full house of an audience, many of whom look like they could have seen Magazine in its first incarnation – and Bernard Herrmann's theme music for Vertigo takes us deep into its silky maelstrom of tension and artifice. The lights fall, and Adamson's band slip from the wings to take their positions – a quartet of brass, keyboards, guitar, drums and bass – as Adamson drapes his body artfully over a stool at the centre of the stage.
The stage lights rise on a finger-clicking rhythm, and a single funky bass note from the guitar, as Adamson sings a bluesy dream rap: "I woke up from a crazy dream, the world was an angry call of flame..." Then the brass section kicks in with some waterlogged blues, while the keyboard is the thread bringing the whole thing together.
The 10 numbers from the forthcoming album are all blues-based, with strong soul connections, though one instrumental, possibly called "Night", peels off the swing label and replaces it with the atonal ambience of Miles Davis' "On the Corner"-era space music.
Adamson takes us back into lounge mode before a tasty mid-tempo soul riff kicks into the territory of early Seventies, late Elvis swamp-rock. Then the final number spreads itself open with squalling guitar layered over a rising swing beat, the bass joining it at the hip and Adamson finger-clicking us through to a finale of "Jazz Devil", his performance heavily couched in quotation marks, but delivered with a bravura that makes it work a treat.Reuse content