Throughout his 16-song set, our hero strides through the boundaries of hip-hop, rap, country and disco, plucks the heart-strings, makes itchy the dancing feet, catches the funny bone a glancing blow, and picks diversely from his enormous and varied back catalogue.
One of music's great, most enthralling and genuinely loveable storytellers, Buck, aka Richard Terfry, opens with 'Indestructible Sam', the true story of New Orleans gravedigger Samuel Dombey, before wheeling out a trio of songs from 2007's 'Situation' the nostalgic 'Way Back When', '1957', and 'Dang' - built on huge, pounding drums.
There are a lot of people in a pretty much full-to-capacity Thekla crowd who are clearly getting Buck, and it's refreshing to see that something seems to be building for him after all these years of tirelessly treading the back-roads of Canada, America, Europe and the UK with little or no recognition or money. He confesses tonight that he hasn't had the funds to eat all day and that he'll be spending the tomorrow locked away in his budget hotel room, recording the vocals for the new album. There must be at least 50 people in tonight's crowd who'd happily take him home and give him a square meal, and that's the sort of artist he is, endearing, accessible and someone you desperately want to see get what he wants out of music, whatever that might be.
He's now signed to long-time friend, one-time enemy and collaborator Sage Francis' Strange Famous label and there's hope on the horizon. In the form of the dozens of people singing along to every word of the 'Situation' material tonight and the fact that one of the gig's stand-out tracks the haunting, slide-guitar infused 'Bandits', from album 'This Right Here Is' has been chosen to feature on the soundtrack for forthcoming movie What Just Happened, starring Robert De Niro and Bruce Willis.
With the delightful 'Break Chains' coming to its conclusion, the show begins to gather momentum as Buck treats us to his bastardisation of Electrelane's 'The Birds', before he hits the brakes, silences his audience and leaves your heart sitting somewhere just below your Adams apple, with the achingly beautiful 'Cried A Girl'.
Another change of direction follows for the sexy, sleazy and modernistic 'Kennedy Killed The Cat', before 'Secret House Against The World's' majestic, Johnny-Cash-esque travellers tale 'Blood Of A Young Wolf' is reproduced, perfectly, brilliantly, before being twisted into an impromptu A Capella burst of Janice Joplin's 'Coo-Coo'. My God, he's good.
Perhaps Buck's best-known song, the tumbling, joyful, 'On The Road', beat generation-evoking 'Wicked And Weird' is also dealt with A Capella, Buck speeding up section by section until the words blur and melt into each other as the Canadian fights to beat the curfew, sweat pouring from beneath his cap as he tries to give us every last drop of entertainment he can muster. The guy deeply and genuinely cares, and this audience care back, in spade loads.
The angular, harpsichord opening to '463' heralds his last song before a universally-demanded encore in the shape of the apt 'Craftsmanship', a story of a homeless shoe-shiner who will not cut any corners nor compromise his pride in his work just to make a much-needed quick buck. Well, that is Buck perfectly encapsulated, isn't it?
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