By Robert Firth
It is a packed out Ritz which welcomes Manchester’s own Adio Marchant, alias Bipolar Sunshine home, on the last date of his 2015 tour. Foreshadowing his entrance is a vibe-y onstage light installation, spelling out “BIPOLAR SUNSHINE”, which sets up the ambience for the music ahead.
Indeed, vibes seem all important to Marchant. In a set sparsely punctuated with talking, he manages to occupy most of what there is with remarks about the “feeling” and the “scene”. Maybe this is to make up for the lack of significant feeling in his performance as a whole. Whilst the catchy refrain “do it like that, do it like that” in ‘Deckchairs on the Moon’ is brimming with upbeat rhythm, the deck chair brought out for it seemed to be nothing more than a visual sugar fix.
The cover of Gary Jule’s ‘Mad World’ thrown in in the middle of the set is the only indication of something more complex. It mixes up the slightly banal delivery of hopeful sounding melodies with something moodier in the emphasised bass line. However, the set’s predictability isn’t to take away from Marchant’s ability to captivate the crowd, especially in the memorable choruses of hits like ‘Where Did The Love Go’. Nevertheless the set that barely surpasses forty-five minutes does little to stir the audience to any higher echelons, and is limited to a one song, timid encore.
Ultimately, it isn’t the performance’s musical intricacies which are lasting imprints of Bipolar Sunshine’s set. The visual aspect – Marchant’s dip dyed blue hair, the accompanying band’s white suits, and musical collaborator Jazz Purple’s dungarees – are what stick out. Oddly it is the music, not performance, which dominates Marchant’s shows though.
So what is this visual candy masking? The answer seems to be in the crowd. They’re engaged, but in a stumbling sort of way, chatting throughout and buying drinks right up until the encore. Recorded, Bipolar Sunshine’s music can be charged, moving. Live, the songs take on the hue of telephone hold music. I’m left half-full or half-empty, whichever, there is something lacking. It is nice but forgettable.
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