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Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Pauline Seward - review of Bonnie Prince Billy gig

My beautiful and talented friend Pauline has written this review of the BPB gig that I was at and I asked her if I could post it. She kindly agreed. I'm so thrilled.

I didn't see her that evening. It was heaving. A great night.

Bonnie Prince Billy (Will Oldham) Shepherd’s Bush Empire 5/8/2010

By the time Will Oldham sang ‘I see a Darkness‘ the song made famous by Johnny Cash ) half way through this show there was a feeling that he has currently moved some way from the themes of discord that dominated his earlier work. Without losing his masterful precision and literacy he presented a set that was gloriously melodic and redemptive.

The music has a sunshiny, mellow quality similiar to the instrumental richness of the Great Palace Music album of a few years ago.

Will Oldham is an enthralling performer to watch. He is relaxed yet focussed and passionate. His singing style is a dynamic dance as he moves his arms, feet, fingers to express the music. He seems to live the narrative of each song. At one point he seemed so absorbed that he’d lost his place in the set list. Although this dramatic presentation is probably well planned there was an element of spontaneity and looseness and a sense of genuine communication with the audience.

He is noted for his collaborations with other musicians, tonight the Cairo Gang as featured on the Wonder Show of the World album, from which most of the set is taken, augmented by the improvisational drummer Alex Nielson and classically trained Lavinia Blackwell. These two are the core musicians of Trembling Bells, the opening act - the only irritating thing about the evening for me was that a lot the audience talked through Trembling Bells performance - marring a gorgeous set an -evocation of early Fairport Convention, accessorised with sexy, slightly spectral, morris dancers.

Later during the main set the audience was quiet and reverent during part of a song which seemed to invite participation, ‘This is the chorus - ‘Go Forth, Go Folks trust your brain, trust your body‘ a brilliant simple creed which encapsulated the lyrical content of the evening.

The evening ended in a mutual encore, huge applause and appreciation from the audience, after Will Oldham had already said ‘This is so much fucking fun do you mind if we stay around and play some more songs?’

1 comment:

  1. I didn't talk through Trembling Bells btw, but then I didn't get there until after they'd been on.