Gerry Hectic

17:38 13th April 2005

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So a month after Conor Oberst (a.k.a. Bright Eyes) took to the Wedgewood Rooms stage, one of his ‘recommendations’ takes to the very same. This is first gig of Mason’s nine date April UK tour.  A good opportunity to compare the two of them as they lovingly battle for the souls and cash of young and old emos.

But before that, nothing can quite prepare you for the experience that is the support, Kid Carpet. He bounds on stage in his Adidas top and trainers looking like he’s ready for some sparring bout.  Full of energy, he’s ready to do battle with his drum machine and collection of various assorted instruments like adapted car boot sale kiddie keyboards and Fischer Price plastic guitars. His vocals are delivered in a punk-hop style and it’s a nice touch that the set list is written on the back of his hand in blue biro.  It’s a bit like a lo-fi Matthew Herbert meets Billy Bragg.

He proudly shows off a copy of the single ‘Your Love’ (which includes a furby solo!) that’s not due out until the 25th April.  Other highlights include a rework of Wordy Rappinghood with ‘disco’ guitar given the full Hendrix-air treatment.   The set ends with him bouncing around the stage to his version of Van Halen’s 1983 hit, ‘Jump’ (with Ivor Cutler sample?). Unlikely as it seems, his version was featured on a Polish Internet radio Hip Hop set list last week! Clearly it has surprise mass appeal. Full marks for entertainment and destined for many a festival appearance this year. He’s at Homelands at the end of May.

In comparison, Willy Mason was always going to be less energetic.  Joined by his younger brother Sam on drums. It was a shame they didn’t bring more of a band with them like Bright Eyes did as the songs lacked variation at times as a duo. Having said that, the sell out crowd seemed to love it and he was happy to play the crowd’s requests throughout the show.

I preferred the country-flavoured songs like ‘Fear No Pain’, ‘So Long’ and the Dylanesque ‘Hard Hand To Hold’ than other crowd favourites such as, ‘Still A Fly’ and ‘Where Humans Eat’. The cover of a Hank Williams song was also good but the “new song” ‘Mosquitoes’ was less so. I suggest you go for the other option, ‘The World I Wanted’ on the rest of the tour if you get given the choice again.

As Oberst has ‘First Day Of My Life’, Mason’s anthem is ‘Oxygen’. Is having a modern day classic a millstone?  Not on this showing. It’s the last track of the set that he plays solo. The audience respectively hadn’t requested it previously; they knew he had to play it.  They loved it and sung along with all the words. Touchingly the crowd continually told him “we love you” and after a couple of encores, he reassures them “you’ll see me again soon”.  I believe him, “on and on and on we go…hmm, hmm, hmm”.

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