Posted on 3rd October 2010
Promoter CRH at St Bonaventures is well known in Bristol and the Southwest for bringing us quality American roots music artists, often artists who are about to become too big to return to this delightful, intimate venue. Tonight St Bon's is jam-packed for Simone Felice, currently on a solo jaunt just ahead of his band's (The Duke And The King) tour of their acclaimed new album, Long Live The Duke And King.
Simone (pronounce that Simon) has with him a special, very limited edition solo album Live From A Lonely Place, a beautifully stripped-down acoustic survey of his songs from Felice Brothers days right up to a version of O’ Gloria from the new Duke & King album – much like tonight.
Loping out with guitar and harmonica to the expectant audience, many remembering the remarkable D&K Thekla gig earlier this year, he greets us with the Keith Richards/Max Miller line: “It’s good to be here, Bristol – in fact it’s good to be anywhere...” — a reference to his recent near death experience. During the final production stages of the new D&K album, he was diagnosed with a heart problem and rushed into hospital for emergency open heart surgery. His survival imbues the night with a joyous undercurrent of celebration.
First up comes a Felice Brother’s favourite, Don’t Wake The Scarecrow, which he wistfully comments “...is about falling in love with a slut.” Then it's onto The Morning I Get To Hell and already the crowd is singing along. These simple, spare renditions reveal the power and poetry of his songs; he is a songwriter on a par with Dylan, Cohen and Young.
More favourites follow: a harmonica-charged, emotive version of If You Ever Get Famous; a cover of Tom Wait’s Ol’ 55, and then the ecstacy-inducing Neil Young song, Helpless, showing Simone is as brilliant at interpreting others as writing his own. He encores with another Neil Young song, Long May You Run, which in light of recent medical problems seems very apt; he was singing not just from the heart, but to his heart.
This was really An Evening with...: he does the whole night in two sets, no support, his charisma and sincerity keeping the crowd engaged from start to finish.
The Duke And The King come to the newly revamped Fleece October 29th, undoubtedly a hotly anticipated event.
by Lee Edwards of...
ElectricGhost - The Free Monthly Music e-Journal
Photo by Martin Tompkins
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