Gloucester Guildhall Arts Centre

They get a less than glowing reception...

They get a less than glowing reception, and its the opening night of their current tour. Airing material from the new album, ‘Bugged’ for the first time, [a]Stephen Jones[/a] is being repeatedly heckled and getting visibly irritated by a half-full crowd who resolutely refuse to warm to the Sheffield songsmith. Like Tony Blair addressing the Women’s Institute conference, Jones seems to lose audience sympathy early, and he never fully regains it.

But despite a chronic lack of atmosphere, many of Babybird‘s new songs sounded fine. The gravel-voiced glam stomp of ‘The F-Word’ and mellifluous new single ‘Out Of Sight’ are well-received, as is the gushingly romantic ‘The Way You Are’. But other new compositions, including ‘Fireflies’ and ‘Wave Your Hands’, sounded leaden and weary. “Here’s another song that only one other person here will recognise,” Jones quips before breaking in more new material.

Audience antagonism at the show never turns serious, but appears to gradually demoralise the band. Jones trades semi-comic insults with a highly-vocal member of the front row, and at one point seems to liken the Gloucester crowd to the inbred rednecks in John Boorman‘s classic thriller ‘Deliverance’. “We’ve got nothing better to do on a Sunday night,” he eventually shrugs. “No really, we haven’t.”

Not great. Not gorgeous. Just an uphill slog for band and audience alike.