“How” he wondered, “can I sustain this for an hour and a half?”
The answer, at least for me, was not very well at all. I say this with regret because he is a legend in this household and has been since I first saw him with the Fairports nearly fifty years ago. But last night, this solo acoustic show was all too furious and frenetic, as he bellowed out those emotionally-charged lyrics over too-loud rock riffs and fast picking that was, well, just too fast.
The variety he promised us did not materialize. It was full-on from beginning to end, without light or shade, without nuance, subtlety or elegance.
The pace never faltered. When Who Knows Where The Time Goes? is almost indistinguishable from Valerie, I was considering whether to take an early bus and an even earlier glass of red.
That I didn’t yield to these twin temptations is down to the fact that it would be disrespectful to do so and I owe this man a great deal.
But it does raise the question of why we, or I, attend these kind of shows.
Jill absented herself from the gig on the basis that she had been there and done that. But I suppose I wanted to show my allegiance, pay homage, cast my mind back to the Fairports in 1968 and the stuff with Linda in the ‘70s, to revisit the first time I heard him play 1952 Vincent Black Lightning live twenty years or so ago.
I did all that. And now I will try to put this particular show out of my mind.
With the exception of the support.
I had not realized when I booked my seat that Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker were opening the show, and what a pleasure it was to hear them live for the first time. Josie’s songs are haunting and her voice beautiful; Ben’s guitar playing is exquisite.
Not a wasted night at all.
Today from the everysmith vaults: something of a Fairport-fest inevitably, but at the end of Unhalfbricking, iTunes bizarrely skipped to the Incredible String Band and The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter.