Wednesday 31st May 2012
plus support from La Bete Blooms & Fossil Collective
Sometimes you don’t realise you’re on a journey until you’re on it.
Sometimes you don’t realise you’re on a journey until you’ve finished it.
There’s no doubt that Josh T Pearson’s journey, over the last decade, has been an intense one. And not in the typical clichéd sense.
This journey, in the hazy heat & warm weather, was one that had seen many tormented twists & turns, but, for the man himself, finally seems to be reaching an end. And, for the farewell leg, we joined him, & guests, in the old familiar surroundings of The New (& newly refurbished) Adelphi.
But, in order to take a journey, you have to start off somewhere. And so it was La Bête Blooms, with a rare acoustic set, to become the chaperons that collected us from our pick up point and lead us on our railroad travels which would culminate in an evening with our weary pastor.
For a band imbedded 4,700+ miles away from their host, LBB provided the perfect guides to escort us from pick-up, via a whistle stop trail, deep into the heart of outer Texas. A delicate introduction to their catalogue for most, the enticing awkwardness of Daniel Mawer & Becki Hopkins , calmly drew us into the rickety creaking carriages, that would start our trip. To hear one of Hull’s best new talents draw back to this exposed nature of performance fully complemented the nights billing, and was duly acknowledged wiith one of the best received opening sets I can remember here for a long time.
Tip toeing through their opening numbers, an expectation & intrigued crowd drew in and fell silent as the set marked travails from the summery sunset outside, to the deeper darker Texan roots that the night promised. As Becki exited the stage, halfway through, Dan was left to mark the transition into an altogether rawer & rougher sound, culminating in a cover of The Cure’s ‘Lovesong’ ruthlessly wrestling it back from Adele’s recent re-merchandised rendition.
Next up, were Fossil Collective. The West Yorkshire quintet greeting us from the dusty railroad, and leading us along farm tracks to our picturesque venue where we would, inevitably, be greeted by our illusive headliner. But before this, they were to entertain us with their enticing serenades, sound-tracking the metaphorical secluded surroundings around us, and inducing the setting sun into its bed. Sedated by their opening numbers, by the time they reached tracks such as ‘Brother’ & ‘Satellites’ we were already comfortable in their aura. The way that lead singer, Dave Fendick, carried himself & the involvement of a tight band backing, showed why these lads are being widely tipped.
Following on from ‘Anything But You…’ & ‘When Frank Becomes…’ the recently aired cover of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘Power Of Love’ drew a hush of appreciation for these 6 Music darlings. Culminating in debut single, ‘Let It Go’, FC could leave the stage happy that they had entertained their guests with an ease befitting of a casual bonfire buffet, leaving us hungry enough for the main man himself.
But a journey is not a journey, without a destination. And the laidback entrance of headliner Josh T Pearson, not only instantly established the connection with which the Texan has with the place, but also the enticement to which only such a pure venue can create. Welcoming his rehabilitated return from life’s rawest of low blows; Pearson cowered into the stage lights. Daunted by this intimate reconciliation with ‘Last Of The Country Gentlemen’s material, he stood gazing out on an expectant audience, only able to mutter uneasy words of introduction. But this was what this gig was about, a man dealing with his demons publicly for one of the last times, with the support of well-wishers before him. Eventually his guitar picking & song writing took the lead & dragged him through the opening numbers, including ‘Woman When I Raise Hell’. And in these first fifteen minutes a clear exorcism of the troubles he’d experienced took place in front of us, as his fingers picked the chords like the flickering flames we’d see from our destinations late night fire.
This cautious start was soon broken by blemished banter that eased both performer & audience into the set. And this conversation, between artist & audience, host & guests was one of easy acceptance. What had started as a tool to get himself geared into this tough performance, soon became a vehicle to move him away from the troubled past and into a confident future. Such raw performances are rare, even more so when the artist is so far from home, and so was special to see in such a special venue.
And this exchange progressed throughout the night, as the chords became clearer and the pain lifted, so did the spirits. It would be difficult to pick highlights from such an intense performance, but especially delicate performances of ‘Honeymoons Great! Wish You Were Her’ and ‘Sweetheart I Ain’t Your Christ, brought such a spine tiggling silence that by the end of each the back of your hand would look like a finely crafted mowhawk. By the time Pearson had reached his encore, including a cover of Springsteens ‘State Trooper’, the darkness that had engulfed us at the start now shone like the orange haze from our fires embers. Maybe redemption wasn’t found fully here, but a man completed a journey that had taken him to darker and deeper places then any railroad or dirt track could ever lead us. And so as the Adelphi front door closed behind us, one opened in front of Pearson, one that let in much needed light and brought the sweetest of hangovers.