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The Felice Brothers
The second fantastic live show in three days at the same venue. Sold out this time which meant the heat was unbelievable. The place is a sixties built working mens club but with a nicely refurbished room with seating to the side and to the rear and an art deco chandelier hanging precariously from the ceiling just waiting for Del Boy and Rodney to get their hands on it. It's in a heavily populated student area (yes, Leeds 6) and Leb and I were reminiscing about the old Woodhouse boozers we used to separately frequent 30 odd years ago, including the Chemic where we met (Reggers by proxy also in attendance were Mrs Leb, Leb jnr (m) and Butts jnr (f).
The two Felice Brothers and their three cohorts came on about 10.05 and treated us to 90 minutes of high octane rabble rousers and painful laments on life with characters including abortionists, widows and orphans, outlaws, criminals and junky priests. Their sound is based around the keyboards and accordian of James Felice (Crazy Horse meet The Pogues) and the voice of brother Ian, somewhere between Tom Waits and Neil Young.
They are an act of utter authenticity who make pretenders to the throne like Mumford and Sons seem lightweight by comparison. They are from Woodstock, where The Band recorded their seminal work and this is the genealogy that they seek to sustain, Americana roots music that sounds barely rehearsed at times but which crackles with images and anecdotes that celebrate their heritage.
They must have torn through about 25 songs or so, many of which came from their early work I didn't know but the audience was happy to stew in its own sweat, egged on by the compelling violinst and washboard man who was happy to throw Beastie Boy shapes at every opportunity.
Their records don't do justice to the energy of the live show but equally the literacy of the lyrics (plenty of Twain, O'Connor and Walt Whitman references) mean that this is a group who have found a way of having it both ways when it comes to getting their messages out there.