Sheffield Leadmill on 15th April 2005
Reviewed by Andreas on 20th April 2005
Willy Mason plays music that you'd think be best suited for small, dark and smoke-covered venues in America whilst he himself is gazed upon by free-spirited children and youths. At least, that's how I visualised it. Instead, he's playing to a couple of hundred semi-drunk and horrendously wet people in Sheffield. Can you get any further from small country dives in the Midwest?
However, before Willy comes onstage, we're treated to a performance by the man, the enigma Kid Carpet. Kid Carpet plays the worst music EVER. But he does it so well that it's nearly a joy to listen to. It's a fury of plastic toy guitars, tiny, battery operated keyboards, drums and shouting about the dole or something. It is great, but utter utter wank at the same time.
Kid plays a mix of hip hop, electronica and pop. Using samplers, tiny keyboards and toy guitars. He's jumping around in blatant joy, singing his songs about being a man from a "Green, green land" and mentioning such British institutions as the job center and... Tetley's bitter... His guitar solo, played on a red plastic guitar that I've got no doubt was made in Taiwan in the 1980s is... well, special. The lack of actual songs is made up for with oddness.
"You're so far away" says Willy Mason before he jumps down in front of the barriers and shakes as many hands as he can possibly get his mittens on. Accompanied by his brother, he has at this point played about five songs, all from his excellent debut album "Where the humans eat". His soft, dark voice has made plenty of people sing along with him, and he seems genuinely grateful and ecstatic that people actually know his words and take the time to come and see him. What a lovely man.
After having made their way through great songs like "Hard hand to hold" and several others, Willy Mason and his drummer/brother go off, only to come back on 5 minutes later and do a splendid performance of album title track "Where the humans eat". A very tender song on record, it is even more so in a live setting. Luckily there are no lighters in the air (let's face it, that would just be very glam-rock). Previous single, "Oxygen", inspires the audience sings louder than Mason. The room is filled with a kind of celebratory mood, and I'm having a dead good time.
A few impromptu songs that Willy's mum taught him, some songs his dad taught him and a song he's been working on, Mason finally says good night to a most pleased crowd. Excellent.
Willy Mason's music is very tender and lovely, but I can't help but wish that I'd seen him in a smaller room. His songs very much rely on that personal touch which is quite hard to achieve in a large venue.
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