This review has taken longer to write than I wanted. I know that someday I will dedicate time to write about my writing process. However, the focus of this review is not on me and how late I am – it’s on the brilliant opportunity to write once again about an artist that I have previously reviewed, and this time talking not only about a new album, but a live album.

Chris Tavener, an incredible (and I cannot emphasise enough – incredible) songwriter from Northwich in Cheshire played a live show launching his latest album and DVD: “Is He Joking? (Live)”. I made a quick trip from London to Manchester on the evening of 27 April, making sure to arrive in time for his act (and I do apologise to the opening acts, as I was unable to watch them play).

Excited about this concert, knowing most of his tracks by heart – not all yet – I came prepared for an evening of great music, and I was not disappointed. In fact, I was the complete opposite of what disappointed is. A full house, sold-out concert, where I actually had to stay in the back since I arrived later than I wanted.

If you haven’t listened to any of his songs, Chris can be described as a satirical and witty singer/songwriter, who takes elements and stories of everyday life and transforms them in to beautifully and funny songs. He has been known to play nearly 350 gigs in a single year. That is absolute dedication to his passion. He recently was interviewed by BBC Radio Manchester and has many of his songs played on national radio. I’m absolutely sure it won’t take much longer until his albums are praised everywhere.

Before coming on stage, the audience is presented with a short video (which is part of the CD and DVD) where Chris battles stage nerves before going in. No wonder his album is under the “comedy” category on iTunes.

Before I properly start talking about the songs, I must mention this is a review of the live show. If you possess a copy of the live album or DVD, the track list will be different.

The shows starts with “A Lament to 2016” – a land of hope over the rainbow where there is no Trump, tax evasion, where Boris Johnson’s dreams don’t come true…a world without Buzzfeed…in other words, such a perfect land that it can only exist in a fairy tale, a place where hope exists in our mind, and only there. A short song that presents the audience who might not yet know who Chris is…who Chris is.

He follows with “Faking Cool”, which is one of his main hits. We all love to invent ourselves, and most of us, at some point in our lives, have imitated our favourite artists or celebrity. Tavener plays with his own character and personality, wishing he could have met James Dean, who he thinks would like to be him (James Dean would like to be Chris Tavener – in case you didn’t get that). He only wheres leather and sunglasses indoors, he is so enigmatic without having to speak (and of course he plays only the guitar at this point…genius…).

This song he gets the audience to participate, as he did in his previous show. Faking (Chris)…Cool (Audience)…and so on…and you can quickly see that his charisma is so captivating that the crowd love to be part. Everyone is singing along.

Praise Him” is one of my favourite tracks (by the way, I will say this a lot). When I first heard it, I couldn’t believe it. Chris, in many of his songs, has this incredible ability to take you in one direction. And in one sentence, he completely swerves, and you are just blown away by his creativity. With a title like this, one can expect a “religious” theme. But I knew Chris better than this, so I was curious where he was getting. “We’ve got to praise him, praise him, he helped me open my eyes / We’ve got to praise him, praise him, cause he’s the start in our lives […] We’ve got to praise him, praise him / Praise to Harry Styles”. Do I need to say more? Please, listen to this song. Please. I should mention that I was already Harry Style’s fan before learning how to praise him.

Modern Romance (She’s So Drunk)” is a track that the audience knew by heart. A witty description of love found between two drunk “lovers” and how they express their beautiful connection inside the bathroom stalls. A true testament to the song’s title – indeed a modern romance. I might have to read Aziz Ansari’s book and get his take as well.

Tesla In Space” is a track that is played to the tune of David Bowie’s “Space Odyssey”, all while describing the brilliant journey of a car into space. And again, as is the case with many of his songs, you must be aware of what is happening in the world. Otherwise, you might miss the context. However, this is if you want to fully grasp the song because without context it is still a brilliant piece of songwriting.

I Got The Cliche Blues” was his next song. As you might expect, Tavener has a sad side – but light. It’s a blues song, as you’d expect, and it not only plays around with a typical blues lyric, but he pauses at certain moments, where you’d expect a solo, but it never happens. Brilliant.

Phoney Supremacy” again is an example of misdirection. Listen, and see if you are almost cringing as I was the first time: “As you scared to say what you really feel / You feel afraid cause you know it’s real / When you see that their coming over here / There’s a million more in a single year / They speak a different language, and they’re not compatible […] The government won’t make it stop / I saw one in my corner shop near home / I just don’t like the people that use iPhones…”. Did you expect that? I didn’t. Again: GENIUS.

Chris Tavener
Chris Tavener – Live in Manchester

Postcard Home” is a hilarious take on our millennial generation in the format of a postcard to “dear old people”. Indoor hammocks to avoid getting our phones wet, “Instafame”, travelling to discover ourselves, digital nomads, reviewing restaurants that we went because of all the other reviews. Such a perfect description of our (almost) shallow generation.

She Was My Love” is one of my favourite songs (told you I would say this…). I’m sure we’ve all gone through break-ups. And if you haven’t, you’re both lucky and unlucky. There are lots to learn from that pain. This blues song is one a lot of us share – the wish to send our ex to go f*** themselves. Need I say more?

The Funny Side” is a slow song, where again Chris takes all of our personal and world problems and urges, wiping them aside clearing the way to seeing the bright side of things. Of course, not always it’s there…

Apocalypse Prediction” plays with all our end-of-the-world predictions. After all, we are always sure that the world will end – 2000, 2012…or are we all dead already, and this is our hell? After 2016, I’m inclined to believe this. If you didn’t get this reference, go back to song one on this review.

After a brief intermission and screaming fans, Chris returns with his encore, where he gifts the audience with three more songs.

First, he goes back to his 2016 album “I’m Sorrdy Bi’m Drunnk” (and no, it’s not typos…). He kicks off with the song “I’m Better Than You”, describing an extravagant life filled with rooms at the Ritz, boat trips, bodyguards, all to say how he is better than you. We’ve all known someone like that. Right?

Wrecking The Bar (World Cup 2018)” was s fresh song. I was blown away how he can take absolutely any subject and make a brilliant song with it. What an amazing take on this upcoming event.

Super Cool Sadie” is one of my favourite songs (told you I would say this…déjà vu?). And I love this song’s story because I’ve been there. A super cool girl that I can describe every detail of who she is, and you are absolutely sure you are describing a girl I’m with. But she isn’t. A wishful and distant love.

I left with a copy of the CD that I made sure I purchased. I hope to soon get the DVD as well. I’m a huge fan of his music, I follow him on Twitter and Instagram, and I’m always anxious for new material coming from him.

He is always launching new songs – like his collection of songs based on the latest news, appropriately name “Song In The News” – which you can listen on his YouTube channel.

Chris Tavener is a brilliant artist, with a mind very few people are lucky to have, transforming everyday life into song with the same richness. Praise to Chris Tavener.