Willy Mason – Live at Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen, Saturday 26th March

[This review is brought to you by Dave, one of my friends from college who manages to get out a lot more than I do, because he is a richer man than I. Enjoy! You can find him here.]

Recording his debut album, Where The Humans Eat, Willy Mason followed one rule. Intent on replicating the raw and spontaneous feel of live performance, each song was recorded in less than three takes. The music lives and breathes, the imperfections arguably the highlights of the record. As Mason’s weary vocals and slightly de-tuned guitar crackle through the speakers, we cannot question his authenticity.

Eight years since that album’s release, Willy Mason’s ethos has not changed. Taking to the stage at the Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen, the set up is refreshingly straightforward. Performing with his Gretsch semi-acoustic guitar throughout, he retunes halfway through songs and stops frequently to share jokes with the audience.

Supported by his backing band of ‘old friends,’ Mason also offers indications of where his sound might be heading next. Although his solo performances are undeniably the highlights of the evening, his band make interesting contributions to newer material. Most notably, Restless Fugitive has been completely transformed from the song that appeared during the last UK tour. Younger brother, Sam Mason, now provides a hypnotic beat, while layers of feedback and broken guitar carry the melody. These brief flashes of experimentation recur throughout the show, teasing the forthcoming new album.

While heavily relying on unfamiliar material, Mason avoids accusations of self indulgence. Few other performers could engage their audience with such humility; although performing to a sizable crowd, he could easily be addressing a room of close friends. Humbly introducing each song, he appears genuinely touched by the overwhelmingly positive response. Most performers strive for such intimacy, but for Willy Mason it seems effortless.

Live in London – 22nd – 28th March

[NOTE: If a gig is sold out at the time of  posting it will not appear below.]

Doesn’t look like much I know, but there is quite a lot of stuff on this week, including Willy Mason, The Shins and Los Campesinos!. Alas, they are all sold out, here’s what’s left…

WHEN?    Tuesday 27th March
WHERE?  The Old Blue Last

A night hosted by God Don’t Like It at The Old Blue Last. I saw Meursault a few months ago at the Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen and they were excellent, even though I was a bit disappointed they didn’t play many of their old songs.

Meursault – Crank Resolutions

WHEN?    Wednesday 28th March
WHERE?  The Macbeth

Again, I’d go for the support. Saw Crystal Fighters supporting Foals a year or so ago and they were a great find. Look out for them with their “Alternative dance, Electronic, Folk, Indie, Folktronica” (Wiki). I know right, but more fitting than you might think.

Crystal Fighters – Swallow