Johnathan Rice - Manchester Apollo - 12.11.04
Johnathan Rice is a the polar opposite of headliners Maroon 5. Whereas the LA five piece are slick, professional and perhaps a touch soulless. Johnathan Rice is humble, subtle, understated and all the better for it. This young Irish man has a mini album out called "Extended Player 24-26" which we hear live tonight during his set.
Using his life experiences he delivers his knowledge into his songwriting. This becomes apparent when he sings about protestant girls in such a sensitive and touching manner. His vocal though unique does have shades of Thom Yorke, which is no bad thing. Rice has a self effacing sense of humour with confessional lyrics which recall Bob Dylan. Like a lot of musicians at the moment Johnathan Rice expresses his disgust of the Iraq War by penning a protest song. "Stay At Home" is a powerful piece of music and his soulful voice brings home how devastating the loss of human life is.
With only a limited time on stage, Rice keeps his chat to a minimum and lets the music dominate. His keyboard player Tom at certain moments of the set reminds me of The Doors Ray Manzarek with some wondrous musicianship. Although the songs have a downbeat feel, this is no self pitying man feeling sorry for himself. Johnathan Rice may be playing to an indifferent crowd who may not appreciate his delicate, honest lyrics and sophistication of his performance, but I can see a lot of promise and natural talent shining through. He's one to look out for as a rising star next year
Nicholas Paul Godkin
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