Liam Frost photo by Dawn Shields

Liam Frost photo by Dawn Shields


Hips switch, buttocks twitch and the lyrics ring out to Wham’s ‘I’m Your Man’. It’s an autumnal evening on the edge of the Northern Quarter and something fucking strange is going on. Truly it is All Hallow’s Eve and the world’s gone wrong.

But we’ll get to the wonkiness later.  Liam Frost has always been a shape-changer, scene-shifter.  Shape changing in that when I first saw him, many moons ago at the launch of the 235 Casino, he was about twice the size he is now.  Scene shifting in that back then he had a backing band, The Slowdown Family, but at other times I’ve seen him – Deaf Institute, Sound Control – he’s been han solo.  Just Liam and a guitar.  Well, half of Liam and a guitar.  At one of those gigs he told me he was done with all that and was joining a band.  Tokolosh.  He was then sometime support for The Courteeners, and for frontman Liam Fray’s solo gigs, which must have played havoc on flyers.  Liam Frost supporting Liam Fray.  Could confuse a stupid person, that.  And now he’s back with another band for a couple of rare one-off gigs: one in London and one, tonight, at Ruby Lounge before… well, who knows.

In sleeve photos for the first album Liam looks like a schoolboy.  Probably was a schoolboy.  Not now.  Tonight he steps onto the stage in a black leather jacket, a quiff collapsing gently across his forehead.  A rebel with a chord.

All those gorgeous songs are packed out by the breadth of the band dynamic, tracks from the two albums – 2006’s Show Me How the Spectres Dance and We Ain’t Got No Money, Honey But We Got Rain from 2009, as well as the more recent Wild Places EP.  It takes a while to adjust the ears to these much played and much loved songs in this new format; for the Hammond organ sound to settle.  But the songs are all the better for being beefed up by the band – ‘Is This Love’, ‘Skylark Avenue’, ‘The Mourner’s Of St. Paul’s’.

But it’s a gig of many parts, and the band also leave Liam out front, alone, for acoustic version of tracks like the perennially gorgeous ‘Try, Try, Try’.  There’s a full and rowdy crowd in tonight but the room falls silent for Liam’s cover of Sade’s ‘Ordinary Love’.  In front of me an old couple put their arms around one another, for perhaps the millionth time.

It does that, does music…Is there anything finer than the round sound of a good acoustic guitar through a decent PA system?  I’ll make it easy by answering.  No.  No there isn’t, beyond a night that might somehow involve Kylie Minogue, the Arsenal midfield and a bath full of Rioja.

Which makes what happens next so kooky I still haven’t quite recovered.  Liam launches into an encore of covers that starts with the Al Green track ‘Let’s Stay Together’ and progresses via soul and funk to Wham!  Liam Frost doing Wham! is Dylan going electric at the Newport Folk Festival.  What next, I ask?  Dogs and cats living together?  It’s perfect anarchy; part karaoke and part wonderful.

Liam Frost is a Mancunian treasure.  He puts on nights at The Band on the Wall for young Manchester bands and indeed booked my own lad’s band, Young Blood.  Post-gig he talks to friends and fans and family (most are all three) until there is no-one left in the Ruby Lounge save for the doorman, myself and the Music Journalism students I have brought with me from our campus.  Backstage Liam chuckles that he’s ‘probably got ADHD.  Some kind of problem.  I’ve got no clear career path at all, no trajectory.  I think my tastes are changing all the time.  I just listen to Wham nowadays.’

He’s joking, of course, but stranger things have happened.  In fact, they are just about to… as the night descends into a melee of Hollyoaks and lesbians.  Propriety prevents me from revealing more.  It’s in the vault and I am holding out for a high price.  To you… a packet of pork scratchings and a pint of Wobbly Bob.

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Video by Dawn Shields

Simon is a writer, broadcaster and countercultural investigator. Over the last 15 years he has written for everyone from The Guardian to Loaded magazine, presented television for Rapture TV and hosted radio programs for the likes of Galaxy. He has also found time to earn a Masters Degree in Novel Writing and write three books (a collection of journalism, a guidebook to Ibiza and one on financial planning for young people – the most varied publishing career it’s possible to have) and establish and run a PR company, Pad Communications, looking after a range of leisure and lifestyle clients.He currently splits his time between researching his PhD at Leeds University, looking into various countercultural movements; consulting freelance for PR clients; writing for the likes of Marie Claire in Australia, The Big Issue and the Manchester Evening News, where he reviews concerts, theatre and is their Pub & Bar Editor. He is also broadcaster, appearing regularly on Tony Livesey’s late night 5Live show for the BBC, and also for BBC Radio Manchester Gourmet Night food and drink show.Simon’s main focus has been music and travel. His career has included editing Ministry of Sound’s magazine in Ibiza for two summers and also writing two long-running columns for DJmagazine – ”Around The World in 80 Clubs” (which took him everywhere from Beijing to Brazil, Moscow to Marrakech) and “Dispatches From The Wrong Side”. A collection of the latter was published in the UK and US as the book Discombobulated, including tales as varied as gatecrashing Kylie Minogue’s birthday party, getting deported from Russia, having a gun held to his head by celebrity gangster Dave Courtney and going raving in Ibiza with Judith Chalmers. He has recently written for the likes of Red magazine, Hotline, Clash, Tilllate, Shortlist and the Manchester Evening News. Pad Communications has recently consulted for clients as varied as Manchester nightclubs and New Zealand toy companies.On a personal note, Simon is a Londoner who left the capital at the age of 18 and never looked back. He sees himself as a citizen of the global dancefloor having lived in Sydney, Los Angeles, Ibiza and Amsterdam. However his life is now rather more sedentary. After all his adventures he bumped into and subsequently married his highschool sweetheart from their North London Grammar. They now live in Stockport with their four children and four chickens, trying to live the good life. Simon recently turned 40 and is steadfastly refusing to have a midlife crisis – as in, growing a ponytail and buying a shiny red sports car.OK, maybe he’ll buy the sports car…