Willy Mason Webster Hall 4 / 07 / 2007
Willy Mason walked on the stage alone, bent over his guitar, as his signature picking moves and deeply soulful voice started to register. The song "Into Tomorrow" continued as band members Sam Mason on drums, Mike Macky on bass, and Nina Violet on viola and vocals emerged on queue.
Webster hall has a strong sound system but lacks the intimacy of the other venues I’ve seen Willy play. The best show was at the Housing Works Used Book Cafe in Soho, which seats two hundred people. What made that show so special was the three acts shared a common thread, not a common label. It was a curated show.
It is difficult being a support act, especially with the time constraints imposed. It was evident to me that Willy wanted to present as much of the new recording "If The Ocean Gets Rough" as he could. He, unfortunately, sacrificed his typical engaging personal connection with the audience. The music made up for his serious demeanor. Nina Violet stepped in with her lively, upbeat support. Sam Mason bore down, immersed in his drum set.
I watched the attentive and captivated young crowd gazing up at the stage. After the first song, I realized that most were unfamiliar with his music. That was clearly evident when they didn’t recognize "Our Town," a crowd-pleaser that his ravenous British and Irish audiences enjoy. Many were there to see Sondre Lerche, whose music is of another sensibility and genre.
Willy and Nina’s voices worked magic together, and the band presented the recording's diverse texture without all the effects the CD affords. The viola was used effectively in Simple Town, creating a sonic backdrop for the sad and impressive words. "Our Town" rocked as Willy sang my favorite line describing the food offerings during a short prison stay / I got some white bread/ some cheese spread / and some mayonnaise /
After the set, I spoke with two lovely young women who were there to see Sondre Lerche. They were impressed and moved by Willy Mason’s music. I left them as they clutched their freshly bought CDs close to their hearts. It’s nice to see that instant connection. Great music can have that kind of effect.
A must-see / Archived: A live set at KCRW with a short interview, it is very impressive.
Setlist: Into Tomorrow (Oxygen single), We Can Be Strong, When the River Moves On, Save Myself, Simple Town, Our Town (Where the Humans Eat), If The Ocean Gets Rough When The Leave Have Fallen. The other songs off the New CD "If the Ocean Gets Rough."
Album Web Link
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