LIVE REVIEW: Paul Draper at Islington Assembly Hall, London

Paul Draper

One of the reasons Paul Draper's latest, second solo effort, Cult Leader Tactics, impressed was its ability to pay homage to both his debut solo efforts and Mansun material whilst also venturing into new territory.

Like with the mini-tour of his Cult Leader Tactics record signings, Draper did back in January; the last leg of this tour took place in London. With Ben Sink at his side, Draper was ready to impress on the final leg of this electro-acoustic tour with a back catalogue that's now over twenty-five years old at a 2022 winning Loo Of The Year Awards venue: Islington Assembly Hall.

Support came from Steve Hewitt (Placebo, Six By Seven), who recalled seeing My Vitriol at the Islington Assembly Hall, rising petrol prices and feeling grateful considering the current situation in Ukraine. He dedicated his song "Truth" to the Ukrainian people and played it out with the Six By Seven cover "So Close".

When Draper and Sink addressed the stage, they opened with "Cult Leader Tactics", where the studio version impresses with jagged guitars influenced by Ennio Morricone's Western movie soundtracks. Paul's diction was superb as he enunciated key lines including "illustrate with graphics" across this tight and slick tune. Paul recalls his personal experiences of being on the receiving end of Machiavellian social behaviour. Draper then sang what he said was his favourite song on the new album: "Annie" followed by the lead song from his second solo EP: "Friends Make The Worst Enemies".

Paul then got fans to smile and cheer as he took an audience photograph. Whether it was Paul counting down "three, two, one, Islington!" or, having previously said he was about to play some Mansun songs, audience participation soared immensely.

After a shy start, Islington Assembly Hall eventually sang along to the chorus of "Disgusting" but then found their confidence when Paul played "Negative". More halcyon memories were relived as Draper played "The Chad Who Loved Me", "Wide Open Space", and "Legacy". Despite the downbeat lyrical outlook of "Legacy", the crowd couldn't have seemed happier as they waved their hands and repeatedly sang ", Nobody cares when you're gone".

While most of this gig was solely Paul on vocals and him and Ben on guitar, there were a couple of new songs where a backing drum machine track was introduced: "Dirty Trix" and "U Killed My Fish". The backing tracks were successful because they provided an alternative rendition to the Cult Leader Tactics versions. Paul said when recording of the outtakes on Cult Leader Tactics that he kept mistakenly singing "Jolene", and in good humour" (which the audience appreciated) sang a snippet of before playing "U Killed My Fish".

Ben Sink was wearing a black t-shirt which said "I've Got No Life Skills", a lyric from the song "You've Got No Life Skills, Baby!" which takes "A satirical look at relationship breakups". Paul explained this song in more depth, recalling when his last girlfriend dumped him for reasons stated in the song. "You've Got No Life Skills, Baby!" was well received.

Draper ended his tour with the song that plays out his latest album: "Lyin About Who U Sleep With". Perhaps it's the message to "let there be love at the end of the day"; Draper ended his latest tour leaving his fan base optimistic.

 

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