Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit: live at Gorilla (Manchester)

English folk-rock band Johnny Flynn & the Sussex Wit performed live at Gorilla in Manchester on the 26th March 2017.

By Jane Howkins.

British folk singer-songwriter Johnny Flynn played an intimate set at Gorilla in Manchester on Sunday, and we were lucky enough to get a ticket to the sold-out show. Accompanying him were his backing band The Sussex Wit, who played a number of different folk instruments throughout the show, complementing Flynn’s music nicely.

Johnny Flynn emerged as a singer-songwriter at the end of the last decade, alongside other more well known ‘nu-folk’ acts as Laura Marling, Noah & the Whale, and Mumford & Sons. Unlike those other artists, he hasn’t quite managed to break out from the underground, which is surprising as he’s definitely the most talented and individual songwriter out of that set. His music is more folk based than most singer-songwriter’s nowadays, which is to his credit, and live the songs truly shine through.

Flynn played quite a few tracks from his new album Sillion, released on March 24th. This could have been a fairly risky move, considering that the album was only released a couple of days before the gig, but thankfully the songs were good enough to go down well, with Barleycorn (a riff on the old folk song John Barleycorn) sounding particularly menacing, ramping the tension up nicely.

However, it was Flynn’s older tracks that went down the best, with old favourite The Wrote and the Writ received exceedingly well, being an extremely tender moment for both band and audience. Other favourites of ours included an extended run through of Flynn’s song from the The Detectorists soundtrack, as well as a version of Fol-De-Rol that was absolutely beautiful, ending the show nicely.

Believe it or not, Gorilla was a fairly big venue for Flynn to be playing in, yet despite being sold-out, there was never a moment where the gig did not feel completely intimate, with the crowd holding onto the singer-songwriter’s every word for the entire show. Flynn is an underrated performer who has a wonderful command of an audience, despite being rather obviously shy.