Wednesday 30th March
Josh T Pearson @ The Bodega, Nottingham.
The bar downstairs started to get pretty packed when the doors to the venue remained closed an hour after advertised opening. The Bodega isn’t huge and given some of the other venues on this tour we were lucky to get to see this in such an ‘intimate’ surrounding.
Eventually we were allowed upstairs and I can only suspect the place was at capacity.
First on was Richard Warren. He played a great set and whilst I hadn’t heard the name before I’ve since seen his history and it explains why he was so good. I’ll definitely look into his new stuff. Described elsewhere as ‘British Americana’, but essentially powerful, stripped back songs, well played and with good use of analog sound kit and classic instruments. He used a Fender combo on the last two songs which I doubt I’ll get close to on Amplitube but it would be worth trying.
After a quick change over next up we met ‘We Three and the Death Rattle’. A young trio comprising guitar/vox, snare (bass drum abandoned roadside) and vocals. The singer Amy also had some interesting flirtations with a mini Theremin type item. They have a definite sound and game plan and played with commitment.
‘We Three’ had travelled up from Brighton with Josh & instruments etc and it seems arrived only an hour or so before playing. Given that Josh must be nearly 7 foot tall I don’t imagine it was a Micra.
After a minimal blast of dry ice, Josh came on stage and plugged in. A commanding figure in black suit and steer horned belt, he’s far more amiable than his recent amazing album ‘Last of the Country Gentlemen’ would lead you believe. From joke asides and a bit of self-deprecation he breaks up the tension between songs both for his benefit and the audiences.
As other live reviews have mentioned he opened with ‘Rivers of Babylon’ which whilst it sounds out of kilter fits perfectly given it’s religious theme and when delivered without any irony or nod to either the Boney M or the Jimmy Cliff versions. This opener segued seamlessly into ‘Sweetheart I Ain’t Your Christ’
….and then we went off into an evening of incredible songs and the most sensitive guitar playing I’ve seen in a long time. It’s true to say you could hear a pin drop whilst he played (or even the subtle shuffling of plastic glasses behind the bar). The audience was totally attentive throughout and the close of each song (generally indicated by a quick stamp or a slap on his guitar) was given exuberant applause. Most of the songs exceed 10mins and are lyrically hard work and harrowing. Even Nick Caves ‘The Boatmans Call’ has more happy moments, but it’s good to find some real music these days that has any emotional depth. Themes range from domestic violence through to infidelity, all delivered with the potential to go from a teeth grinding whisper to an anguished yell. Variously described as harrowing, epic, desolate & cathartic I would say on the whole the songs leave me lost for words. There’s definitely an uncomfortable beauty in the experience.
It would have been great to see him play with accompaniment but I guess getting Warren Ellis and his violin on stage would entail excessively high levels of beard insurance.
The set closed with an unexpected sing-along to ‘The Devil is on the run……lets have some fun’ with pretty much 100% audience participation. The man is currently a force of nature and I hope he finds a tour manager / merchandiser /driver / sound tech (who can cook) so that the tour rolls on.
He should be on Jools Holland soon so he will hopefully find a wider audience, as did Seasick Steve. Buy his album, in fact buy two and give one to a friend.
Here’s a great version of ‘Woman, When I’ve Raised Hell’ from a French TV show.
Links below to some other interesting sites. The pictures included here use all sorts of apps’ including Hipstamatic, Swanko Lab, Pic Grunger & Toon Paint. Use them if you want but credit me a link!