“If someone tells me I have to go out there and impress some people because they’re important to my career, I’d rather go out there and really piss them off. Because this should be about the songs and a belief that everything else is bollocks. I walk around thinking ‘people in Liverpool, can’t you see what they are doing to you?’. There’s so much to say and no one is saying it. I’m going to be the lad who does.” – Louis Berry
In a couple of weeks time, I’m lining up a chat with Louis Berry. He’s playing at Nottingham’s Bodega on the 19th January as part of a short headline tour. It wasn’t long ago that I saw Louis play in Leicester when he supported Saint Raymond. I reviewed the show for the Leicester Mercury but I’m not sure if my words ever got published. In truth, I was quite scathing about the headliner and I can understand why an editor might have opted for an easy life.
Anyway, waste not want not (and all that) – I’ll publish my uncensored review here…
I look at my watch and despair. Saint Raymond have only been playing for forty minutes in the second room at Leicester’s O2 academy but it already feels like a lifetime. It’s not simply because he’s from Nottingham that I take such a dim view. One song, with bland,subtle variation, is played over and over again. Repeat until it’s really not funny.
He’s the master of monosyllable is Callum Burrows, the man behind the moniker, Saint Raymond. ‘I want you to know that, I want you, you know that’, he sings in yet another jaunty, catchy, raise your hands in the air, singalong pop by numbers blow-out.
Yet it would be churlish not to admit that this man with very little to say does seem to say a great deal to his fans. Young female students have graduated from Ed Sheeran, Olly Murs and One Direction. They now have a new poster boy for their university bedsit and Burrows is it. Surrounded by a faultless band, the crowd sing, clap, dance and wave their phones to the innocuous, choppy pop on offer. “Let’s carry on dancing, I want to tire you out”, smiles Burrows. I yawn.
Callum plays a cover. I only know it’s a cover because he tells us so. The crowd cheer wildly after every dull syllable he states. He tells a story about making a video in a taxi in Manchester with Thomas Turgoose, a potentially interesting tale in the hands of a somebody less boring. He plays two songs without a band that fail to resonate.
More impressive is Louis Berry, the scouse support act with jug ears, a cheeky grin and a charming swagger. Sometimes he veers a bit too close to Jake Bugg for comfort but when on form, you can see the Johnny Cash crossed with Arctic Monkey influence. Plagued throughout with sound problems, it seems to distract Berry from his full game. “We can’t hear what we’re playing”, moans Berry. It has rebel attitude, bite and enough skiffle based melody to suggest that, on a good day, Louis will be one to watch.
Ever one to consider the positives of a situation, as I leave the venue I think it could be worse. A poster of forthcoming gigs is thrust into my hand and I notice that it’s two days away from a Scouting For Girls gig. I thank God for small mercies.
I was a grumpy bastard towards the end of 2015 wasn’t I? I’m more than confident that Louis will continue to impress throughout 2016 and he’ll have a great deal more to say than Saint Raymond.