Cerys Matthews / Adam Green - Manchester Academy 2 - 25.6.03

The Moldy Peaches frontman Adam Green has just released his second album "Friend Of Mine" and judging him by his delayed arrival he ain't no friend of mine. So typical of a yank not to turn up on time. They were late joining us in the 2nd World War and quell surprise an American is late again tonight. Perched on a stool, the lethargic tunesmith with the punchable face wearily begins his criminally short set (barely 15 minutes) in a fashion that is so low key you begin to wonder why he bothered. Despite my initial misgivings Adam Green is a talented musician and his witty, unusual, cutting lyrics are delivered with a monotone deadpan vocal. He stands up for the acapella "Immaculate Evil" and his songs are about hairy, balding women, rubiks cube and the government. While his storytelling style of songwriting is effective he comes across as an over educated meek geek smug outsider with a chip on his shoulder. Green is a bitter, cynical man disillusioned with life.

The voice from the valleys, Cerys Matthews is back after Catatonia imploded. After a short stay in the priory Cerys has now thankfully returned a changed woman. She no longer swigs from a wine bottle at gigs or staggers out of the Met bar. Now happily married with a baby on the way Cerys recorded her debut album "Cockahoop" in Nashville with legendary producer Bucky Baxter. Tonight is the last date of the tour, a fact one of her most dedicated or possibly obsessed fans is aware of, a man who is draped in a Welsh flag singing Oggy, Oggy, Oggy to a bemused and baffled crowd.

She may now be singing country folk songs, but her voice remains as characteristically strong as ever. The low key opening sees Cerys and her five piece band in semi-darkness. Then suddenly the stage lights shine brightly as they launch into the magical "Chardonnay". Songs from her album feature prominently such as "If You're Looking For Love" and the Pogues like folk fun of "Goodbye". "Gypsy's Song" is a full of fiery passion while Richard Bennett's guitar playing is technically faultless on the Welsh Language song "Arglwydd Dyma Fi". "Banjo Moon" and "Caught In The Middle" are also belted out in fine fashion. Adam Green returns for the encore duetting with Cerys on one of his songs, the bitchy "Jessica Simpson", and the set closes with the cover "Annie" and the hushed beauty of "O My Child"

The American sunshine and way of life out there has done Cerys the world of good. I've never seen her looking so healthy, confident and happy. Her voice has never sounded so good and you can sense her enjoying the freedom of being a solo artist. if you're one of the lucky few who managed to get a ticket to Glastonbury and saw Cerys performance then you'll appreciate how right I am.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

Photo by Karen McBride - www.karenmcbride.com

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