Tuesday night at the Oxford Art Factory I dipped my toe into the pool of American music. It felt so good I soon dived all the way in. Kurt Vile and his Violators practice a music that is timeless and classic. American beauty. Guitars ring and chime, vocals drift on the air. Music that is effortlessly good and sublimely graceful. It can also pack a punch.
Vile is currently touring Australia for the first time. By all accounts he is impressing and delighting all who see him. By my first hand account last night he delivered one of the finest shows of 2011. He strode on stage with his trusty acoustic, sans band, and subtly engaged us with the mesmeric "Blackberry Song". His guitar playing is classical and concise, giving off warm and rich tones. Soon his band of 3 joined him on stage and the guitars chimed and thrilled through "Runner Ups". This great song would be many through the night that he plucked from his outstanding 2011 release in "Smoke Ring For My Halo". The Violators were great in support as they traversed from slower tunes to all out rock songs that came with a 60s sludge vibe. This was evidenced on the back to back sledgehammer of "Hunchback" and "Freak Train". As great as these moments were it were quieter acoustic numbers that Vile played solo that truly stood out. You could hear a pin drop as Vile charmed us with "Peeping Tomboy", which was followed by an 'oldie' in "My Best Friends (Don't Even Pass This)". I was also truly delighted that he closed with the greatness that is "Society Is My Friend". Vile's voice bears mentioning as well. It is quiet and reflective, more a drawl than a voice. It is certainly distinctive and totally suits the music. The encore was sublime too. Vile played us "Baby's Arms" solo and this could have easily been the highlight of the night. Then he closed off the wonderful night with the Springsteen cover "Downbound Train" and the powerful "Laughing Stock", both of which recently appeared on his just released EP in "So Outta Reach". A great night.
A privilege to be there.
My Best Friends (Don't Even Pass This)
Puppet To The Man
Society Is My Friend