Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Gig Review: Darren Watson & Matt Langley - The Shoot Your Television Tour: St Peters Hall, Paekakariki, 26 June 2015

A tiny community hall in a small coastal village might seem like an unlikely venue for Darren Watson and Matt Langley to kickstart their nationwide Shoot Your Television tour. But last Friday night at Paekakariki's St Peters Hall it seemed like the most natural choice in the world. Indeed, even with the licensing restrictions which render the community trust-managed venue a BYO, everything was as near to perfect as these things can get on a chilly mid-winter evening.

I arrived shortly after the scheduled 8pm start time and was shocked to see the hall already close to full and buzzing to the vibe being created by "special guest" Bill Lake. A quick scout around the hall revealed a virtual who's who of local muso talent in the audience itself and I knew immediately we were in for a treat. There was no way Watson & co would be allowed to get away with anything less than the real deal with such a picky bunch of talented TV-forsaking-onlookers.

For the uninitiated, Bill Lake is something of a legend in local blues circles, a man Watson himself cites as a major influence, and an ideal curtain-raiser. It's around 20 years since I last saw Lake perform so it was wonderful to see him still doing the live thing as passionately as ever. His set - acoustic guitar, voice, and much self-deprecating humour - was a mix of the old and new stuff, one highlight being the old Windy City Strugglers' tune 'Can't Get Back'. Typically, Lake paid tribute to contemporaries like Arthur Baysting, Midge Marsden, and Rick Bryant - trailblazers all, and men cut from exactly the same cloth. His near flawless performance set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Next up we had folkie and self-confessed "Southern Troubadour" Matt Langley. Again it was very much the man/acoustic guitar template for the most part - save for Langley's "Bob Dylan" moments when harmonica became his default weapon of choice. I'll be honest, to my shame, I didn't know a lot about Langley's music, but that made no odds at all, given that many of the songs in his set were introduced as being "a new one".
Langley has a great voice; gentle, persuasive, fragile at times, silky smooth at others; one perfectly suited to the rather intimate surrounds on the night. So good, you could almost picture him as a crooner in another light ... or lifetime. There's no questioning his musical chops either, or the fact that he's clearly an immensely talented wordsmith, but as much as I became engrossed in his performance for long periods, I also found parts of it a bit too subdued. And there's not a lot of joy to be found in some of those lyrics.

But that's a minor quibble, specific to my own taste, and Langley certainly added plenty to the evening - during his own set and on the multiple occasions he joined Watson on stage during the final segment of the night. Like Lake, Langley also possesses a dry and offbeat sense of humour.
I have to confess by the time Watson came on in his "solo" guise I was feeling somewhat worse for wear after sharing perhaps a little too much of the BYO merlot (among other things) being consumed by the perpetually swaying Janis Joplin-wannabe sitting/standing next to me for much of the night. An otherwise complete stranger who somehow morphed into an impromptu gig-going companion ... proving that one of the upsides of community hall gigs is the overwhelming sense of community! (the sting in this particular tale/tail was her revelation that her day job involved drug and alcohol counselling) ...
The subsequent blur means it's a struggle to recall Watson's set-list in any great detail. He immediately stopped the room with his set opener, the title track from his St Hilda's Faithless Boy album. That much was very memorable. There were other songs from the St Hilda’s album, a damn fine version of ‘Crossroads’ (naturally enough), and several from his most recent outing, Introducing Darren Watson, including ‘Some Men’ and a quite lovely ‘Thought I’d Seen It All’. For the second half of his set, Watson was joined on stage (alongside Langley’s appearances) by partner and drummer extraordinaire Delia Shanly, whose touch and timing was a nice addition and gave those electric numbers a slightly fuller sound.   
Much to the crowd’s delight, we also got Watson’s two most recent singles, ‘Planet Key’, and ‘I Got Your Office Right Here’, which, unless I missed something important like belated shouts for an encore, closed the show.
I did leave the venue in something of a hurry as it turns out said Janis Joplin-wannabe lives a virtual stones’ throw from my own humble abode and she came fully equipped with her very own sober driver! … having clearly been adopted, the lift home provided the perfect end to an almost perfect Friday night.
The Shoot Your Television tour continues well into July … check the pic above for details of dates and venues. Whatever else you do, don’t miss it.

Or better still, go here to Watson's website and follow the appropriate links.

No comments:

Post a Comment