Gig 14: Willy Mason / Hoxton Bar and Grill / 27.03.12

After a busy day at the office, I rushed from West to East in an attempt to – just this once – arrive on time at a gig venue.
I did – and Wist and I got to enjoy the comfy sofas and indie tunes before the support act had even started.
And, by the look of things, before Willy had even arrived.

How do I know this? As we went out for a smoke, he walked in – all dazed and confused – and hunting for his management.
His look has changed quite significantly since we saw him at the Union Chapel – the rugged Americana style has been swapped in faour of a slick, dark suit and greased back hair.
I couldn’t help but think it was a decision his management had made for him – swapping attire to fit in with the trendy shoreditch crowd. And he didn’t look all together comfortable in it.

The first act – Mirror Maze – didn’t shake any feathers. They were talented musicians but their material sounded like a poor man’s Radiohead covering Keane.

Willy took to the stage next with a warming “It’s been a long time y’all”.
He started the set acoustic, getting his biggest hits out of the way – playing as if he’s sick of them and wanted to get them over and done with.

Then the lights shone on the band behind him and he started on his new material.
We’d heard some of the new material in solo acoustic form at Union Chapel – and I couldn’t help but feel I preferred them that way. The band didn’t gel particularl well and left me with the feeling they were hired guns – session musicians looking forward to the paypacket – rather than really showcasing Willy’s talent.

All in all – the gig was a bit of a letdown – his newer stuff, in all honesty, would have sounded better without the band. His older, more well-known tracks would have taken off with the backing of a solid rhythm section.

Again – it felt like management advice. ‘Move on Willy, you can’t keep selling the same thing forever.’

Willy’s a really talented songwriter and a great performer, with a gnarly American drawl – similar to Johnny Cash.
I just hope he finds the cahones to look and play the way he wants – rather than letting his management dictate his style in favour of a more commercial product.

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