Simone Felice - live at The Bristol Colston Hall 28/04/12
Who carries a two thousand pound Gretsch guitar around the world to perform one number with it each evening? Simone Felice does, but when that number is 'New York Times', it makes sense. Big number = big guitar. Part political statement, part love letter, it encompasses Felice's lyrical prowess and swoonsome melodic flair. With a five part vocal harmony recreation of the main theme to finish, it packs an emotional hammer blow.
Darting back and forth through his catalogue, both albums from The Duke & The King supply a steady stream of reminders of Felice's passion for funk and soul. 'Union Street’ and 'Shaky' receive such rapturous applause Felice has trouble squeezing a word in. When he does, space is required, as messages seemingly transmitted straight from the heart take time to materialize. We hear about his feelings for his daughter ('You & I Belong') and the sadly departed Levon Helm - a jubilantly stirring version of 'Radio Song', played in tribute, is one of the many highlights. For 'Bobby Ray', from his self-titled debut, Felice mirrors his hero and switches to singing drummer, his staccato beats build intensity as he meets the song's murderous tale head on with a tremulous ache in his voice.
Often financial restraints prevent touring American bands from travelling with all their personnel, but here, a full complement provide a rounded experience. Earlier, for a solo support set, Simi stone's voice filled the room with unique material from a forthcoming release and a violin version of Neil Young's 'Birds'.
A self confessed romantic and a riveting performer, Felice's eyes roll back in his head once more, this time to express the fear of bringing new life into the world on 'Your Belly In My Arms'. Finishing on a beautifully understated 'Knocking On Heaven's Door' he just pats his chest and smiles broadly as a spontaneous standing ovation goes on for some time.