Adam Green @ Soup Kitchen, Manchester, 19 Oct

At a time when the country is seemingly divided, the vibrant Adam Green provides some much-needed community spirit at Manchester's Soup Kitchen

Live Review by Stuart Holmes | 24 Oct 2019
  • Adam Green live at The Deaf Institute, Manchester, 23 Jan

We’ve always needed the likes of Adam Green, but perhaps now more than ever. At a time when the country is seemingly divided, the vibrant American singer provides some much-needed community spirit. If only momentary, this show in the bunker-like basement of Soup Kitchen is welcome escapism from the outside world as he gallops through his now expansive discography. 

Green is in an infectiously good mood. Despite only arriving in “Man-chest-hair” a few hours earlier, he has managed to fuel up on Nando’s after walking down the nearby “Old-ham Street”. The Peri-Peri seems to have kick-started his evening as he bounces onto the stage to the sound of wild adoration. 

The 20-plus-song show begins with Cigarette Burns Forever, which takes fans back to the beginning of his solo career. His band then jump straight into Emily, which Green performs with cabaret-style swagger, dishing out high fives to as many outstretched hands as possible during its all-too-short duration.

Engine of Paradise is tonight’s first offering from his recently released album of the same name. It highlights Green’s talent for writing beautifully arranged laments disguised as pop songs. His subsequent renditions of Cheating On a Stranger and Freeze My Love, from the same album, follow suit. As with much of Green’s work, these songs satisfy the eardrums but immediately leave you yearning for more. Like his lyrics, this feeling is bittersweet.

The band is given a brief rest early on while he invites Jackie Cohen, his complementary support act, on stage for a couple of harmonic duets. The most notable of these is Who’s Your Boyfriend, with Green’s open-hearted delivery of ‘Only you could break my heart’ cutting deep and Cohen’s backing vocals further exposing the wound.

Green later explains to the crowd that during his recent visit to Morocco he painted a portrait of Cohen, which now bestows her new record cover. This prompts Green to be asked a not-so-pertinent question from an intrigued fan: "What kind of sandals did you wear?" “That’s a good question,” Green acknowledges. “Birkenstocks,” he begins to explain in detail. It's that kind of evening.

As the night nears its finale, Green happily accepts a request to dust off his cover version of The Libertines’ What a Waster, gifting the audience with a rare performance and allowing everyone in attendance to party like its 2002. Jessica ends the main set, complete with a brilliant interlude of The Bangles’ Eternal Flame, encouraging a mass singalong. 

Dance With Me punctuates the encore with an exclamation mark and ends a setlist which always rises but never falls. The song title also reads like a belated invitation to a crowd, but they’ve been moving along all evening, pre-empting the request. 

Fittingly, Green spends tonight performing in front of a colourful backdrop containing artwork from his recently released graphic novel. Its title, War and Paradise, is written clearly above the eye-catching illustrations and these words hold significance by the end of the show. Whilst British Isles residents appear to be at loggerheads with one another, Green has provided his fans with temporary solitude, hosting them as guests on the unique musical island he inhabits. More simply put, tonight is pure fun.