Gigwatch: David Ford @ The Deaf Institute (Manchester)

Written by Leo Baldi

Hailing from the South Coast of England, Ford has been lauded by press and public alike throughout his decade-long solo career.

His records have achieved number one slots on iTunes and in February 2014, a bizarre twist of fate saw him travelling to Paris to receive the French Grammy award for song of the year. A multi-instrumentalist and master of the loop pedal, Ford’s mesmerising live performances regularly sell-out venues on both sides of the Atlantic.

I was lucky enough to go see David play in Manchester last weekend and by god, it was the best way to spend any Sunday I’ve had in this country.

I didn’t know much about David Ford before I went to see him play, probably because apart from his critical acclaim, he has always chosen to fly under the radar. I have listened to his work but never really seen or acknowledged his persona and had no idea what he was going to be like. So, it is fair to say that my expectations were very basic and a little chiché, yet I’m happy to say that I was wrong.

On arriving, the tardis like room was packed, everybody had a drink (I had a milkshake…don’t judge) and the atmosphere was pleasant and candidly happy. I’m used to hysterical crowds at pop gigs so this felt very refreshing, if you can have fun without pushing people and sweating on them then that’s a great start for me.

The set included some new songs from his yet to be released Animal Spirit, like my favourite of the night, Real Damn Slow, and some from his acclaimed discography such as Waiting For The Storm and Pour A Little Poison, other absolute standouts.

What left me completely speechless after 15 seconds was the power of his vocals. I had lost all hopes to find someone in the industry who was not afraid to let it all out and belt some high notes. Ford’s voice blew me away in the studio version, but the difference to hearing it live was shockingly good. This man has pipes! The entire band showed excellent chemistry and had great presence and a visible passion that was mesmerising. I guess that is to expect from someone so seasoned and professional.

My expectations about him as a person were not let down, from his funny spoken interludes to the way in which he described his new record as a ‘macro-economics study in songwriting’, left a big smile on my face even after I left the room.

What struck me the most was the sincerity in which he addressed fame during the introduction to one of the new songs: “you can become famous in ten weeks” these days by going on a reality show, but I think it’s important to know that it’s always better to take some things really slow.

I think his professionalism spoke for itself at the gig, no note was missed, everything felt polished and raw in a balanced set of songs, his blues-country-ballad rock was untouchable.

I grew up on this kind of music and have been in quite a few rock bands in my teens, yet, something about David Ford made me realise (again) that this spirit of love for music and simplicity is the essence of good music.

In short, David Ford was quite simply brilliant and definitely showed that old-style passion has never felt any fresher than in the age of stress and nonsense.

Listen to David take his gig outside in Leicester last week below.

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