A subtle glance at my record collection would indicate an approval of the more maudlin side of popular music. From the darkness of early Cure and Joy Division to the wry soul-searching of The Smiths and Radiohead and the urban melancholia of my recent favourite, Burial, there is a pattern and a theme to be filed sullenly under 'noir'. For that reason, I anticipated keenly last Friday’s Acoustica headliner, David Ford, a fellow who, for Morrissey’s sake, called his first long player, I Sincerely Apologise For All The Trouble I’ve Caused, and who has a reputation for emotional and plaintive songsmithery and for laying bare his soul. The reality was a touch different. Ford proved a witty and quite chirpy character, a charming performer full of self-deprecation and sardonic humour who debated his reputation knowingly and suggested that he preferred to deal with disappointment rather than despair in his writing. He created a splendid noise on Friday. Taking a selection of instruments and looping them to create gorgeous layers of sounds, Ford presented a superb set of challenging and uncompromising numbers, some angry, some contemplative, some rueful, some aggressive, all compelling. His tender reading of The Smiths’ There Is A Light That Never Goes Out was an unexpected highlight but all the songs sent shivers down the ol’ spinal column. Not an acerbic word was wasted and, joy!, not one sensitive singer-songwriter cliché was lazily proffered and it was a rare pleasure to witness a one-off, a truly independent talent with the wit and wisdom to command an audience’s attention so vividly. I salute him. This was a splendid night. Ford cascades effortlessly into the pantheon of ‘Acoustica greats’ alongside Truax, Special, Stephenson and Hewerdine. Hurrah!
A brief bravo for the support act, Ruth Royall. The gal’s elegant and gentle songs proved an impressive hors d’oeuvre before the main event. I liked her.