After seven years with Catfish and the Bottlemen, Billy Bibby strides out to the stage, performing in Manchester for the first time fronting his newly formed band Billy Bibby And The Wry Smiles. There’s quite a mixed crowd in Night and Day and, as Billy Bibby takes to slightly elongated stage, they all move to the front and centre, clearly excited to see him perform tracks from his EP Bide Your Time on the day of its release.
The gig is off to a relatively gentle opening with Girl. In some ways it’s the perfect track to open with as fans from his Catfish and the Bottlemen days who may not have heard him perform solo or fronting his own band are quickly shown that he has the vocal ability and presence to take centre stage, quickly dispelling any lingering fears.
And his strong songwriting talents are also demonstrated from the outset. This Kind of Summer features some nice arches and strong development throughout and is an early indication of the style which he is adopting, and it’s one which sits comfortably with the fans who have filled Night and Day.
But the pace quickly picks up as the rock ‘n’ roll influence is felt in I Got A Woman, a song which immediately has heads nodding, feet tapping away and fans enthusing about the performance. The heavier feel continues with Hideaway, a song which although slowed down is slightly stunningly atmospheric and dramatic, with a nice moody feel to it.
But Billy Bibby can’t deny his Catfish days and embraces them, and as the rest of the band take a break he performs a solo rendition of Pacifier. It’s a strong performance and links his former days with his new trajectory nicely going down a storm with fans.
There’s excellent guitar work and an upbeat feeling to the latter part of the set. Waitin’ For You, features intricate guitars with a great riff, and it certainly has the audience moving. Similarly Are You Ready and the final track of the set God Gave Her Soul have the audience dancing, and bring a fast paced climax to the night.
But it’s Don’t Fall which stands out. The first track on the EP, it’s a moody, guitar laden delight and it is performed to perfection, noticeably hitting home at the busy Night and Day – swaying any doubters and providing the perfect pitch for the debut EP.
Billy Bibby and the Wry Smiles. Image courtesy Media Kitchen / SonicPR