Tuesday 14th September 2010
This is a Crackerjack review of The Felice Brothers / Admiral Fallow. Do you agree? Rate and review this event.
Crackerjack rating: 8 / 10.
Who’d have thought a knackered old washboard could double up as a DJ’s turntable?
The mighty Felice Brothers are tearing into Frankie’s Gun when fiddle player Greg Farley swaps “instruments” and scratches away at his well-worn laundry aid like a man possessed on the wheels of steel.
Whenever there’s the briefest of gaps in the action, Farley then proceeds to throw all kinds of hip-hop homeboy moves for added entertainment value. Welcome to gangsta Americana everyone.
Actually, scrap that – the closest you can get to defining The Felice Brothers is as some kind of North American Pogues. Pinballing between rabble-rousing boozy anthems and battered ballads, they’re a totally unique live proposition.
With just one London date to come on this tour, the fivepiece had just completed a barnstorming set at the End of the Road festival and a secret gig in the wee small hours of Monday morning before boarding the Thekla.
With half an eye on the finish line and still suffering just a little from the exertions of the previous 24 hours, the band had to call on all of their energy reserves to pull off another outstanding show.
They took a few songs to work their way through the gears. Marlboro Man was a dark and brooding opener followed by a similarly battered Murder by Mistletoe.
But we were never too far away from a stomping belter. James Felice wrestled with his accordion for all he was worth on Run Chicken Run and totally lost himself in the music on a superb Goddamn You, Jim.
And it was James, too, who threw down some terrific honky tonk piano for Greatest Show on Earth.
Part of the attraction about the band’s music for me is that their songs always seem on the point of unravelling and descending into chaos. It’s this brinksmanship which makes them so compelling on stage.
Able to turn on a sixpence, they rattled through White Limousine before spinning off into the pathos-laden Ballad of the Welterweight – as good a story song as you could hope to hear.
Lead singer and guitarist Ian Felice’s 50-a-day husky drawl gives the band’s songs their distinctive lived-in quality and his stabbing lead solos crackled against the rootsy backing.
With only a couple of days to go before they fly back to the States, Let Me Come Home came dripping with heartfelt intensity.
But with fans screaming out requests for most of the night, they still had a couple of crowd-pleasers left in their locker.
A lusty version of Take This Bread played up its New Orleans jazzy vibe and their classic bar room singalong Whiskey in My Whiskey ended on a fitting note of bonhomie and mild exhaustion. Time to put your feet up for a while lads. You’ve earned it.
This is a Crackerjack review of The Felice Brothers / Admiral Fallow.