“THIS could be awesome or the opposite of that”, said Brian Christinzio, clad in baseball cap and sunglasses in the gloom of Komedia Studio. Ultimately the US-born, Manchester-based songwriter’s gig was somewhere in the middle of those extremes.
Christinzio has talked candidly about his mental health issues – not least to The Guide recently – and the most poignant moments here came when he hinted at tumultuous past experience.
“Here’s to breaking down, darling,” he emoted in the rousing Atom Bomb, a standout from his latest album How to Die in the North. Released in 2015, the record is loosely based around his move to Manchester from Philadelphia, which reinvigorated his songwriting spark. A setback was just around the corner, though, as Christinzio was deported a day after the album’s release – a moment he referenced in Brighton.
Swigging from a bottle of wine, the singer showed endearing self-awareness in his interactions with the crowd, whether he was remarking upon the strangeness of playing music – “I’m just making noises and you’re all watching me” – or humouring audience requests (before shooting them down).
Ultimately, though, some of his better songs were dampened by his solo piano approach. Stripped of its innovative vocal loop, You Should Have Gone to School lost some of its playful charm. Not that Christinzio’s accomplished piano work should be downplayed – it just would have been nice to hear his arresting melodies underpinned by a fully-fleshed set-up. In any case, single Just Because I Love You was as dreamy and melodic as it is on record.
A mixed night then but, as Christinzio headed out into the night – inviting fans to join him for a drink – it was difficult to wish him anything other than good will.