Simone Felice (with Anna Mitchell)

Venue: Black Swan
Town: York
Date: 25/10/15

It would be trite to use the term 'Irish songstress' to describe Anna Mitchell, there is much too inherent beauty in what she does to be so lazy, she is that, and then four or five more stops along the line as well. A deft piano banger she is light, floating across us filling this wonky old room with wispy otherworld music. She holds the room in a suspended status, dreamlike, bathing us in a strange sensations as she moves, transports us to her view of the world. No wonder she's Felice's touring companion and her album is sold out, she doesn't just warm the audience up, more realigns it in preparation.

Felice himself is an obvious enigma, his take on small towns, the embittered role of the blue collared America, the dispossessed, unaccounted for and even despised American somehow connects across this side of the Atlantic. Songs of dark times, dark places, he feels like a man pushed over the edge, a fractured individual, turning things around.

The second time he's come to town in 18 months, he's always had an air of danger, Mitchell acting as his compass, he acts like a bruised man cut to size and yet he can produce such aural beauty. He is shifty, listless on stage, often turning his back to the audience or starting playing whilst he's on his haunches. Somehow he pulls this off, we're all with him, willing him on.

With a "Live" single take album on the way, record in rural New York with his brothers in two weeks tonight he peppers his set with "songs we never finished, or got round to putting down", as well as 'Strangers', the new old stuff sounds amazing. At times he's as much spun out as homespun, but 'Gettysburg' or 'Welcome to LA' are a clear sign why his music is so adorable and adored.

Part Cat Stevens, his deconstructed folk has a 70's feel, "growing up in the Catskill Mountains is a weird place" and growing up "running around like Huckleberry Finn" has certainly served to add and shape what he does. He writes so as to conjure pictures "meet me in the parking lot, in the part of town that Jesus forgot". Often you wonder if he remembers we're hear at all, then he'll come out with "I need a quire, of drunken sailors, heading off to Dante's inferno" and we all sing along, 50 voices going "li-o, li-o, li-o, li-o".

Mitchell drops in and out, her BV's adding a startling quality, so beautiful you double take, clearly an ideal and wondrous foil for Felice. And with some live advice - "don't just your junk mail, don't touch the third rail", he's gone. Reality pops back into view. Truly the best way to waste an evening of your live.

Rudie Humphrey

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