Tonight’s Winchester Railway show marked not only the start of a small UK jaunt, but the first post lockdown shows for Andrew Combs and along with that, the very first live airings anywhere of his just released album, ‘Sundays’. Instead of a standard smattering of the new songs spread across the set, ‘Sundays’ is played in its (near) entirety straight from the off. Aided by the excellent multi-instrumentation of Dom Billet and Jay Bernhardt, the band begin proceedings with a twistingly gentle ‘Anna Please’ before moving to the more darkened notes of ‘(God)less’. “We are capable of such a mess, but God still lives on in godlessness’ Combs wistfully observes.
It’s perhaps immediately apparent that these premiered songs may not be the lightest of affairs and fairly early into the gig Combs elaborates a little further. ‘Sundays’ is a result of his own lockdown timed mental breakdown and the album is a product of the cathartically meditative steps to some sort of eventual personal recovery. “When you look across the water you cannot see, a fire’s climbing higher than the trees” he sings on ‘Mark Of A Man’ with no additional explanation needed. A restrained ‘Adeline’ swings to a more traditional theme telling a tale of lost youthful love. ‘Down Among The Dead’ meanwhile growls to an increasingly messed up groove. “Life keeps sliding out from under, still hope but losing wonder… diminishing” is just one of many poignant lines from ‘Drivel To A Dream’. An absorbing audience silently consumes it all.
The latter part of the set, whilst not exactly jubilant but just perhaps a little lighter, is garnered from the back catalogue. The band fully revved and harmonised on the brooding ‘Rainy Day Song’, and ‘Dirty Rain’. “I’m just glad I remember all those damned words” proclaims a relieved Combs. A pick from the early career, ‘Too Stoned To Cry’ closes the gig before an encore of ‘Better Way’ and the longing torch song ‘Hazel’ brings things to a proper end.
At the merchandise desk, alongside the usual vinyl and CD’s sat a small portfolio of Combs’s own artwork for sale amongst which was a painted Kubrick like silhouette of a human body, perhaps drifting toward a subdued sun, or possibly floating internally within an all seeing eye. Either of these personal interpretations seemed quite apt. From this live debut outing, ‘Sundays’ is a powerful lockdown era piece of work.
All photography by Paul Bevan. https://www.instagram.com/paul_bevanmusicphotos/ Thanks to Oliver Gray for facilitating the pics.