Ron Sexsmith

Venue: Arts Centre
Town: Pockington
Date: 17/10/15
Website: http://www.ronsexsmith.com/

Single mic singers, Hannah Lou & Trevor Moss, last enjoyed at Bexhill a few years back at Record Store Day are opening for Sexsmith. Tonight they seem to have forgotten it's a business call show, scruffy, uncoordinated they are limp and lacking vigour. It's a tame, vanilla start to the evening disappointing, I liked the new record a lot and last time out they had pep.

Sexsmith, universally acknowledge as one of the best song writers around is another prospect, he's so self-effacing, a little bashful even, it's obvious he's feeling more than a little exposed without his band, naked in a room of 150 is always tricky.

No need to fret or pout, tonight he's rocking the blues, 'Former Glory', 'Getaway Car' and in white shoes. He cuts all the solos, and starts at too frantic a pace, it's as if he really needs you to listen to his songs, I mean really needs. 'Getaway Car', his debut as the "weird looking bloke" at the end of the Andrew Marr show is the first of a few from latest record, he "still thinks in albums", Carousel One, 20 years on from his debut.

'Lebanon, Tennessee' is next and despite "being a bit raspy to try and hit the high notes" there is an amazing warm warble to his voice. 'St Bernard' an earworm of a tune, which live sounds even more like 'Pretty Flamingo', is "the animal I most resemble nowadays", is a genuinely funny song, and his dry sense of fun really comes across live. He also tells us a St Bernard is the only animal he could get to fill in for him and "no one would notice".

We get a smattering of tunes from across his extensive and lovely back catalogue, my favourite 'Retriever' - 2004, he offers 'Whatever it Takes', Bosa Nova'ed up by Micheal Buble, who he been sending "tunes for years", he played it him "down the phone" - minus the Bosa Nova and tonight we'll get the "correct Version".

The best part of the whole evening is the fact the venue has a baby grand piano, and when Sexsmith switches to this the whole evening just he's up up up and away into another world. It's so refreshing to hear a proper piano, not some nasty bangy sound-a-like. It brings drama, weight and Ron is home. He has "Beethoven's hair, just not the chops", but it's obvious he appreciates the fact there is a piano.

'Brandy Alexander' is the highlight of the evening, recorded with one of his favourite artists he's told me previously, Lesley Fiest. His debut offers us a few more tracks, this came out when he was still working as a courier in Toronto. He also plays 'Hard Bargain' from Retriever, something he also told me previously was a massive honour when it was done by Emmylou Harris, and probably his favourite cover.

More piano in the encore, as he "wants to get the most out of having it", but if anything symbolises the majesty of Ron as a writer, singer and performer then it is his use of the word "sneak" in 'Sneak out the Backdoor', and that he does.

Rudie Humphrey

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