Its been a few years since everyone’s favourite Martha’s Vineyard songwriter came to the UK. Willy Mason is back and he brings with him the amazing Nina Violet, a double whammy of talent if you are familiar with Willy’s earlier live shows.
Making a name for herself over all these years, fellow Martha’s Vineyard singer/songwriter/multi instrumentalist Nina Violet is one of those calming creatures with tales of flowers on the Yorkshire moors while she sips from a mug. Her songs range from brutally bare to beautifully straight up. Her fingerpicking style backs up her soft and captivating vocals perfectly. If you like your folk and its bare bones, this is the artist for you.
There are a couple of oldies like the heartbreaking ‘Better Than To Bruise You’ and new songs like ‘All Or Nothing At All’ which merge seamlessly together. The subtle addition of cornet and clarinet add a lovely layer to the sound.
Having sold out of CDs she does mention a few times the cassette she has for sale, on purple of course. Fans of analog take note, cassettes are back. I’m off to dig out my old cassette player…
Willy Mason is one of those folks who are comfortable touring alone or with friends, and with the latter him and Nina use the same musicians to add layers to their music for this tour. Marcus is on cornet and bass, Emma on clarinet and vocals and Jules is on drums (sadly Willy’s brother Sam is not here on the drum brushes but Jules’ smiling face throughout is as nice a replacement) give an uplifting sound. Nina accompanies as in previous tours on viola and strong backing vocals.
Starting with my favourite song and the title track of the debut album ‘Where the Humans Eat’, the sold out crowd are as always are transfixed. Looking lion-like with long hair and a tweed jacket, Willy’s laid back approach through events like a broken G string (jokes accompany this of course) and the sound cutting out on his guitar do not faze him one bit. The venues disco ball above also lends itself to spy jokes. When Willy borrows Nina’s smaller guitar there’s comedy value as the strap is so short; “it’s my Elvis style” he comments.
If I had to have a gripe with this show it would be the sole fact that the drums are too loud on ‘Riptide’, which sound ace on the snare and tom hits but at the end when they stop a beautiful chorus of vocals can be heard and its then apparent to me that these were overpowered throughout the song.
‘Save Myself’ breeds a huge sing-a-long from the majority of the crowd. ‘Our Town’ receives an inclusion of a “mowowowow’ solo vocal from one plucky punter, along with the cheers for that immortal line “white bread, cheese spread and mayonnaise”. The nod to the pies served at this venue (the wonderful Pieminister creations) comes from all the band, in fact one member ate two, not saying who…
Where The Humans Eat
Fear No Pain
What Is This
We Can Be Strong
Show Me The Way To Go Home
Shadows in The Dark
Talk Me Down
If It’s The End
Waiter At The Station
Hard Hand To Hold
Sold My Soul
When The Leaves Have Fallen