We’re all banged up, but who’s keeping score?

BbpKhfHIQAA7eXzMy friend Adam reminded me last week that a trip to the Fleece was in the offing and that he had a ticket for Kurt Vile with my name on it. As a tonic for the Winter Blues and the ongoing trauma around the Christmas run in, news like this is right up there with World Peace and Free Beer, as far as I can see.

Kurt Vile, The Fleece

Kurt Vile is another singer who’s somehow escaped my notice over the years, but I knew this day was going to happen sometime, and a quick couple of days’ YouTube and Emusic prep convinced me this was going to be a good evening.

I’ll have said before how much I like the Fleece, but I swear they’ve somehow managed to increase the number of pillars between punters and stage. Sound is still noticeably better than many other more illustrious venue’s, and the bar’s a few feet away from the stage area. Proper rock’n’roll.

Support band, True Widow, were truly awful, trudging through 30 minutes of relentless post White Stripes grunge, signing off with a comically perky number that presumably is penned as their “single”. Rubbish.

Kurt Vile and chums ambled, on at about 10, a shaggy gathering of hair and guitars (honestly the word “laconic” just doesn’t do it…) but were immediately stirring. The set lasted a good hour and a half, reminding me at times of the Long Ryders or Green On Red, and at others like a better, less disappointing War On Drugs. Although loud and at times pretty discordant, the band never got in the way of those strong, tight-but-loose songs, and there’s no doubting the man’s a pretty charismatic character, which allows him to treat some great material with an almost sloppy indifference.

For my money, the stand-out part of the set was about half way through, when he performed Peeping Tom and Feel My Pain on his own. I read somewhere the phrase “self-inflicted bruises to the song’s tender frame”, applied to Feel My Pain, which is really appropriate, I think. I love the spectacle of one man keeping a crowd silent, captivated, particularly when done with such casual grace. Remarkable.

Those ninety minutes took in a good selection from the new record and enough old stuff to make it clear it’s worth doing a bit more digging into his back-catalogue. I can honestly say there wasn’t a moment when my (butterfly) mind wandered…

I’ve got a couple of recordings, and may well add a few others in the next few days…

Feel My Pain

Jesus Fever

And for your pleasure, Knappsterino has captured Wakin’ On A Pretty Day:


Many thanks to Alister Betts for the photo…

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