Leytonstone Ex-Servicemen’s Club – 22/7/2015
Nights like this shouldn’t work. A Wednesday evening in Leytonstone, upstairs at The Ex-Servicemen’s Club where nobody is taking money on the door. The bar dispenses cheap drinks, the small stage is dressed in flowers and the “DJ” is a man playing scratched antique shellac on some sort of gramophone. Later an energetic Irish fellow who has obviously been talking non-stop for the last 55 years will collect donations for the artists by scuttling around with a vase.
All three acts are from overseas: a skinny lad from Florida singing heartfelt songs about road accidents; a Canadian cowboy wearing a preposterous Stetson hat; and a musical sorcerer from New Zealand called Delaney Davidson.
We saw Delaney three times during the all too brief period we spent living in New Zealand so a 220 mile round trip to see him again is virtually on our doorstep.
Our mate Karen from Auckland said of Mr Davidson, “You can’t say he is our Tom Waits.” I wouldn’t, it’s the first thing they teach you a music journalist school: Day 1, Lesson 1 – don’t say anybody is in anyway akin to any other artist because it’s lazy, despite the fact that this is how normal people communicate.
(And if you’re going to be lazy at least be accurate : Delaney is also New Zealand’s Hank Williams, John Lee Hooker and Johnny Cash, although I suspect his actual influences are wildly obscure.)
No need for inaccurate comparisons in this day and age of course: now we can just cut and paste a link which actually does away with the need for music journalism at all.
This is a previous show from what looks like the same venue.
With each show presenting an unpredictable set-list, you’re guaranteed a unique, unexpected experience every time. He released his fifth album in 2014, “Swim Down Low” and I’m pretty sure he didn’t do a single track off it tonight. He just rocks up in a vintage suit with a guitar, a minimal amount of gear and weaves rich heartbreaking spells with dusty bits of country and blues melded with a junkyard art aesthetic. If you look at nothing else on the link above, go to 27.47 minutes and see what he does to the Leadbelly song, “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”
He loops sounds with pedals; some as simple as a riff or tapping his guitar and then conjures layers, providing his own backing vocals, until listeners find themselves wrapped in a sonic web.
Mr Davidson is joined by a guest singer Nicole Garcia for a couple of hauntingly beautiful songs, one of which is “Macorina” – this can weird you right out here:
At 11pm our Irish compere tells Delaney he can only do two more songs. Once he finishes his lengthy rambling thank you he can’t resist inviting a last song. This turns out to be a Dante-esque tale of the Cathedral in Christchurch (Delaney’s home town) which fell over in the earthquakes, unleashing all the bad spirits in the process. It’s pushing midnight by the time we clear Leytonstone.
That’s who Delaney Davidson is: a guy who can entrance a cynical, lazy man into his beguiling world to disregard the consequences of not getting home until 2am on a week night.