There’s always a sense of excitement, a sense of genuine happiness, a sense of positivity when Billy McCarthy is in town. On the 4th of May in Leeds, it was no different. Walking into the Wardrobe underground room all that could be seen were smiles, flowing alcohol and friendly conversations. Billy brings a warmth wherever he goes and as always, his show did not disappoint the adoring fans.
Following the mind blowing solo tour in 2016 that saw “Billeh” open his heart and mind to us all in sets amassing three hours and longer, and the farewell Augustines tour that left no dry eye, it was always going to be a challenge for the great man to follow up. The thing is though, no Billy McCarthy show, or indeed back in the day Augustines show, is the same and within minutes fans were singing loud and proud the Augustines tracks they’d all come to love over the years.
As Billy rattled through every classic the band produced, and as the crowd got increasingly merry, the show became one to remember within the first hour. As always he took us through some incredible stories, almost begging to tell the Leeds crowd about Madonna’s home (next time Billy), but instead the crowd chanted “Bowie”. Billy took us through his incredible moment in Bowie’s home, taking a proud shit in the legend’s bathroom. Yes, the stories in 2017 were much happier than on the 2016 run, but the way Billy tells every bit of his life is something to be commended and it’s those stories that people take away from every show.
The night was one I’ll never forget, and although Eric (the midwife) and Rob were missed, Billy has such power and such control over his shows it was still a superb night. Speaking of power, how many people stop raucous crowds mid song just to tell two lads to calm down..not many. Billy dragged two young guys onto his stage and got them to line for line apologise for their actions, again showing such class and calmness not many people would exude in the moment.
The music was perfect; Augustines renditions impeccable, covers better than originals and although you’re fully absorbed in every lyric, every note, you always feel relaxed with Billy in the room. For 2 and a half hours last Thursday evening I, and the whole Wardrobe crowd didn’t stop smiling and as the lasting notes of Cruel City played out, it was the first time in many, many months faith in humanity had been restored and one man and his guitars proved we can all have a good smile now and again.
It didn’t once feel like a gig, or indeed a concert; what the 4th May was for so many people was a celebration of life, of music and of Augustines and William J McCarthy