Gig review: JARROD DICKENSON – St Pancras Old Church, London, 19 October 2017

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JARROD DICKENSON - Kings Cross Old Church, London, 19 October 2017

Set to the backdrop of understated and ancient looking Christian icons, the stage drenched in purple light gave off a slight eerie vibe as intermission music played before Jarrod took the stage.

The unlikely setting was actually ideal for the Texas troubadour, as Jarrod’s songs could swing between melancholy and merriment without losing the engaging qualities synonymous with his songwriting.

For his second night at the Old Church (and penultimate date on his stripped down tour for new album ‘Ready The Horses’), Jarrod was showcasing a number of new and old songs, with the added treat of an even newer song recently written with long-time collaborator and guitarist J.P Ruggieri. The tune had a Paolo Nutini feel, it was poppy but retained an Americana twinge.

For the majority of the night, Jarrod was joined by his wife Clare, and the two could not be more suited to share a stage together. They have a chemistry akin to Johnny Cash and June Carter, with the vocal prowess to match. When ‘Your Heart Belongs’ was played, you absolutely knew it was written about their meeting and relationship. It was believable, genuine, and true.

And I think that is what really draws you in with Jarrod. Apart from his gentlemanly charm, impeccable dress sense, his gift for guitar playing and his commanding voice, Jarrod exudes the feeling of reality in his lyrics.

There is no part of me that doubts he lived through the experiences he sings about, or at least that he ‘knows a guy’. It leaves you with the feeling that you know Jarrod intimately, even if just vicariously through his songs, and this kind of honesty is so rare in modern music that when you find an artist like this, you just don’t want to let them go.

If I have one criticism of the gig, it would be that it should have been with the full band. I have no problem with stripped down renditions of Jarrod’s material, however having just put out such a grandiose album, I feel that some of the songs I’m now very familiar with were done a slight injustice by not having a rhythm section and brass backing.

This being the third time I’ve caught Jarrod’s stripped down show, hopefully he will be back soon with the full band (and Clare!), as I’m dying to hear the songs he so expertly crafted on ‘Ready The Horses’ given the live treatment they deserve.

Review by Sylvester Segal
Photo: Robert Walkley

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