July 15, 2016
O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
“It’s a long way from The Slaughtered Lamb” – Sturgill Simpson
The first hour of Sturgill Simpson’s set was for the long-time fans, and for the band itself. Similar to Israel Nash’s recent London performance, this eight piece outlaw country band riffed off each other throughout intricate solos. Simpson’s Kentucky country vocals were deep and rich. In between songs, his southern drawl was put to nuanced British references, including to Shoreditch hipsters, The Old Grey Whistle Test, and our national drink: “y’all got me hooked on this tea shit.”
Though many a cowboy boot tapped away, the crowd seemed somewhat subdued. There was recognition for songs like Life of Sin and A Little Light but, overall, not quite the levels of excitement as would be expected for a headline show.
The reason for the reticence became clear as soon as Simpson announced “We’d like to play our new record. The crowd went wild. They were here to celebrate Simpson’s masterful paean to his firstborn son. While the record feels like an intimate love letter that the listener is privileged to overhear, live it was a raucous celebration delivered at breakneck speed.
The samples and rousing brass parts which layer the record were all there. Outright set highlights included Welcome to Earth (Pollywog), Sea Stories and Call To Arms. Simpson asked “Are you with us?” and the answer was obvious, told in relentless hollers, bouncing and slow-dancing.
Check out my full review of Sturgill Simpson’s new album, A Sailor’s Guide To Earth, here.
Daniel Meade & The Flying Mules
Powering through their old-timey rockabilly set, Daniel Meade and The Flying Mules were the epitome of authentic Americana. Until Meade spoke, that is, and his Glaswegian accent marked him out as one of the new breed of British acts showing the Americans how it’s done. All country crooning and retro tones, a That Thing You Do vibe with a ragtime kick.
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