At the Hare & Hounds tonight, Simone Felice starts his UK leg of the tour following the release of his second solo album ‘Strangers’. A crowd of mainly older fans but a fair few in their 20s waited in anticipation as local singer-songwriter Dan Whitehouse [7/10] takes to the stage. Although I haven’t personally seen him play before, he has clearly been playing in venues across Birmingham for many years as a few of his followers cheered and sang along from the audience. Harriet Harkcom joined Whitehouse on stage, their voices complimented each other perfectly. Yet, perhaps due to nerves and inexperience, Harkcom seemed to look at Whitehouse for reassurance throughout their set. Whitehouse’s songs are deeply personal songs about love, loss and life which captured and moved the audience. Particular highlights were ‘Why Don’t We Dance?’ and catchy upbeat track ‘A Light’. Whitehouse, in familiar territory, gave a confident performance asking for audience participation and even when he repeated a verse he brushed it off as a joke saying “listen to your elders” and carried on playing a number of his wide array of songs. He announced the release of an album in May around the time of Mostly Folk festival. A talented and versatile artist, he ended with the simple yet beautiful ‘Somebody Loves You’.
Cellist Gabriel Dresdale and guitarist Matty Green took to the stage, shortly followed by the man himself Simone Felice [9/10]. As the founding member of internationally acclaimed, Catskill Mountain artists The Felice Brothers and The Duke & The King and having worked and toured with many artists, Felice gave a flawless, fiery and heart wrenching performance.
The trio opened with ‘Don’t Wake The Scarecrow’, we could have almost been around a camp fire in Catskill Mountain, almost. They followed with the first track of his new album ‘Molly-O’ the ‘If You Go To LA’ which got the crowd moving. Felice’s facial expressions are priceless, he clearly hasn’t adapted his set to a UK audience, yet it made it rawer and a truly unique experience. Throughout Felice was grinning at Dresdale and Green to go all out on their instruments and so they did.
A poet and a story-teller, the pureness and honesty in his songs shines through powerfully during his live performance. The mix of slower and faster songs, the new ones and old, was perfect for this weekday night. Highlights include the slower new songs ‘Running Through My Head’ and ‘The Best That Money Can Buy’ to the known-to-all ‘You & I Belong’ and dark chilling ‘New York Times’.
Overall, it was a fantastic Wednesday evening for all, except perhaps the couple of people shushing some die-hard fans who were singing along a bit too loudly for their liking which Felice handled well by saying something ‘hippy’ along the lines of ‘we’re all friends here’. To finish, Felice invited his friend Whitehouse and Harkcom to perform two songs with them.
Photo Credit: Jes Hamblett