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Vic Chesnutt Band

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Despite a calamity of errors and annoyances throughout the night such as getting caught in the freezing rain, delays in the venue opening, and breaking my camera due to my own clumsiness; this night could not get any better. Not even the noisy contingent at the back of the venue could take the magic away.

 

Earlier this year I ranted and raved about Vic Chesnutt's latest album. Needless to say that when I saw he was playing I jumped at the chance to buy tickets (ended up getting ticket number one and all) so it was unlikely that I was going to go home disappointed. As on the album, Chesnutt was joined on stage by members of Silver Mt. Zion and Fugazi. It is evident from both their studio work and the way they performed on stage that all these musicians revere Chesnutt and they were doing their damnedest to make sure his songs sounded their absolute best.

Undoubtedly the centrepiece of the night's performance was the beyond excellent "Debriefing." This is easily my favorite song from the album and live it became a far more intense experience. The screaming and tempestuous guitars scraped my mind clean while the sublime bass line made my body a slave to its rhythm. Thierry Amar has always played the kind of bass that makes you want to throw down what you are doing and play along, his work on this song (and indeed throughout the night) is no exception.

Although the bulk of the set was from Chesnutt's magnificent North Star Deserter, his new band had learned off a couple of oldies. "Sponge" was a nice addition to the set but it was "Distortion" that sounded best with the musical facelift. Chesnutt's vocals here were no more impassioned than normal (which is a lot) but there was something about the way he poured out the lyrics that sent a shiver down my spine. Another old song, older than any of Chesnutt's back catalogue, was a fantastic rendition of the Stones' "Ruby Tuesday." The sing- along chorus has never sounded so stirring.

By the end of the night everyone wanted the concert to go on and on but it was physically exhausting to listen to such rapturous music for so long. Aside from Michael Gira or Nick Cave (at his most incensed), I have never experienced such a powerful yet human voice. Chesnutt captures every emotion in a single phrase and makes you feel each and every one of those emotions with each breath. This night's performance will be haunting and inspiring me for a long time. I can only hope that the experience can be repeated someday.

 


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