Heartbreak and wonder; Nick Ellis launches new album 'Adult Fiction' at St Bride's Church


PICKING up drinks from the Co-op on Hardman Street before sloping off past the Caledonia and up the leafy suburbs of the Georgian quarter we reach St Bride's Church for Nick Ellis' latest album launch.

Another marvel on the city's wondrous landscape, the columns of the looming church were alight while the rest of its grounds remained in complete darkness.

Fans from around the city, country and of all ages dripped into the cosy surroundings to adorn the wooden benches ready for a night of unheard quality.

Nick Ellis has a habit of playing venues with a story to tell.

This evening was no exception, for the launch of latest album Adult Fiction, he was joined by spoken word extraordinaire Roy - or should I say Reverend Roy and Mel Bowen.

An interior lit solely by blue lights with the occasional smoke screen floating through the crowd. 

Taking a pew, people were enjoying wine, cheese and olives - a tip if you are to bring your own booze.

We chose hula-hoops and chipsticks - classy enough for us.

After getting accustomed, it was Roy's turn on stage, a daunting prospect for him as he jokes about preaching to us. 

Two tales, 10 minutes each, pulling them out of a blue plastic bag, inside a Fjallraven ox red rucksack along with a bunch of ripe bananas.

The first was a dark tale about when bubbling emotions at home boil over and the other, a fan favourite told to Roy by a man called Derek from Wavertree while on the train to London.

Roy
A short intermission and Mercury 13 front-man Mel Bowen takes to the stage with backing singer Emily Valerio who brought eighties keys with a hint of soul.

The transition from spoken word to Mel was superb, his lyrics of meaning and wanting to make a change, hit hard with the audience around us.

In his own clever way Mel takes a simple set of words and makes a stand with tracks such as What Have We Become - shouting for Justice for the Cammell Laird 37 - a group of men who spent a month in jail in 1984 after being arrested during a dispute over jobs.

Playing material from his latest EP Everyday's A Holiday, Mel excelled with Squaring The Circle.

Soon enough it was time for Mel to depart, thanking Nick and Mellowtone for the chance to perform while praising Roy.

After a break, out of nowhere Nick Ellis appeared on stage - opening his guitar case, putting the finishing touches to the stage set-up.

After a long solo, he began harp The Grand Illusion, taken from previous album Daylight Ghosts and EP Grace and Danger.

Mel Bowen
His punchy yet soft deliverance of vocals poured into the church, grasping onto the wooden interior and ricocheting off a white netting above our heads.

The do-wop folk guitar intro of Lovers In July brings out something powerful, so much in fact that it encouraged two crowd members to clamber into the isle and smoothly dance away to the music.

Deliberately allowing the track to run on, Nick continued lengthening the ending to give the pair their dues. 

Cheers and shouts later, it was back to business.

Alas, it was time to introduce the new album to an already wide-eyed audience.

Discussing the album before the launch Nick said: "Each song on the album is a chapter based on an old folklore passed on to me by my 105 year old Aunt, Molly Amero, in the last days of her life.

"It is a story about an architect who built one of Liverpool’s most mystifying and beautiful landmarks, the Princes Road Boulevard, located in the Toxteth Park area."

Performing the likes of Clockwatching and Heartbreak City, Nick had us in the palm of his hands and christened our minds with stories of love and despair especially with lyrics like 'don't ever give your heart away unless you never want it back.'

It was when A Girl Desire began, hairs stood on end as this beautiful masterpiece perfumed the air. 

We all turned towards each other, mouths wide, silent.

The church was no longer cold, it was full of hope, loss, love and admiration. What a sublime performance from this troubadour from Liverpool.

Crowning the show, Lips Like Sugar, his Echo and the Bunnymen cover - this sweet track fits Nick's voice like a glove. 

Pleading for more, we stood in anticipation, clapping Nick to do just one more.

He gave in. 

We're always left wanting more from Nick Ellis, not because he isn't good, but because he has it all and we could listen all night.

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lauren@themusicmanual.co.uk