While some may find the almost deadpan delivery of Willy Mason a little samey, fans more familiar with his style will be aware of the underlying earnestness of his lyrics. Willy has never been a brash sort and neither was this show on the good ship Thekla.
Wandering onstage without any kind of introduction, barely a cheer was raised as most of the crowd wondered if this was the sound guy putting finishing touches to the equipment. Not that there was much equipment on show as this was a mainly acoustic set with drums on only half the songs.
While some bald headed twat shouted “We love you, Willy” about 15 times, the deep voiced New Yorker played through his seriously-overdue-to-be-updated back catalogue, taking requests as he went. The partisan crowd joined in on the catchier ‘Save Myself’ and ‘We Can Be Strong’ and seemed to appreciate the singer’s casual approach to a headline gig.
I don’t honestly know what Willy’s motivation was for playing this gig. With no new material and a back catalogue of songs he must be sick to death of playing (his last single and album were three years ago), and with having to drive himself down from Manchester the same day, surely the love of playing is too naive an incentive to suggest. Anyhow, low-fi to the max and with as affable a demeanour as you can imagine, the crowd lapped it up.
Supporting Willy Mason were two fifths of Matthew And The Atlas. With no explanation given as to why three fifths were missing, the remaining two members gave it a good shot. The man Matthew himself has an emotive voice with genuine range reminiscent of Ray Lamontagne. Whilst the songwriting breadth may need expanding (too many long monosyllabic noises which aren’t actually words) there is much promise to be had here, especially if the other two lazy gits turn up. Also, given the banjo and accordion on stage, there is no surprise to find out Matthew et al are currently supporting Mumford And Sons on tour.