Words and photo by Ged Camera
There were no support groups before Richard Youngs took to the stage, and that’s not the only difference between regular gigs and a Richard Youngs event. In a way, he is his own support act. Before a note was played, Youngs stood in front of the microphone for about 10 minutes talking to – well, more like entertaining – a decently sized crowd. Rather than being impatient for music, the audience lapped this up, including the part where Youngs gave a demonstration of the type of throat and vocal exercises that can be used to prepare for a gig, which morphed into an audience participation experiment.
It was difficult to tell when the set as such did commence, as those in the crowd who were clearly familiar with the artist and his musical output believed it was from the second he took to the stage.
When the musical section of this event began, it was with a metronomic, one-paced rhythm. One hand held the mic stand whilst the other strummed down on the guitar strings in an open chord fashion. Some numbers continued for five minutes or more, whilst others were so short that their introduction was longer, loquacious in dialogue whilst sparing in verse.
“I’m not sure where this song is going,” he announces at one point, but that didn’t worry the crowd. What is not in doubt is the purity of Youngs’ voice, which could shatter glass if he put his mind to it.
A solitary purple spotlight partially illuminating one side of Youngs’ face kept his face in shadows for most of the evening, making him seem vulnerable and exposed. However, such is the warmth that he is capable of exuding that, at his request, almost the entire crowd became his backing group for one song, a song which didn’t even have what could be called a chorus.
Ultimately, it seemed more like an ‘Evening with…’ occasion, and that’s not a negative comment.
The gig took place at Aatma on Saturday 2 July, 2016.