JONATHAN WILSON - LONDON - 04.12.2013


Let’s face it. Many people get the old school thing wrong. They score maximum points for effort but little applause for effect. It’s usually when you’re not trying too hard, you get it right.

There’s some people who get vintage so right, you’re fooled into thinking it’s not actually 2013. Jonathan Wilson’s effortless yet energetic, sold out performance at Islington Assembly Hall did exactly that. The band, the venue and a grateful crowd, merged to form one of the most beautiful gigs to date. It may be due to the fact that 75% of the audience were male and 40+. That’s not a sexist thing, it’s just an older crowd usually indicates true appreciation for the music, sans backpacks. Whoever deemed backpacks as fashionable this year failed to think about their recurring annoyance at live shows.

Aside from a peaceful experience, the age observation also reflects the fact that Jonathan Wilson is breathing the sound of another generation. He’s been open about his dislike for digital and successfully captures the crisp sound that analogue provides.

The set well exceeded two hours and covered most songs from both his albums Gentle Spirit and more recently Fanfare. His recent tracks conveyed more soul; starting slow and reaching a point where they became drenched in nostalgic groove. Take ‘Future Vision’ for example, its build and transition pleasantly shocks you. But the perfect moment arose when ‘Love to Love’ came on. The bassist, with his jam-jar glasses and lengthy locks, comfortably slipped back to the 70’s.



The aesthetic was set from the beginning, but the slow haunting jams between songs became more apparent as time passed by. Wilson’s guitar solos were enhanced by his interaction with the rest of the band (not to mention the cheering support from the audience). Eventually becoming a clash of jumbled beauty and joyous guitar screeches, they regained control with the warm tones of Wilson’s voice. Admittedly it was an arduous set - but the balance between moments of psychedelic bliss and countrified folk-rock held the crowd until the very end.

The lyrics to 'New Mexico’ are indicative of the spiritual awareness throughout - 'Pretty spirit, make us smile, and we’ll never let this wicked world, drive us wild’. Every other song contains lyricism just as honest. Emotion aside, their talent is outstanding. It’s safe to say that with numerous guitar changes, that tour crew is vast. The sound screams quality equipment; expensive goods played by the best.

It was a delightful evening of West Coast entertainment; American vibes given edge by, not only Jonathan Wilson’s beard, but a serious level of funk too. His history of producing with some of the best in the industry means he is well equipped with class (Roy Harper, Dawes, Father John Misty to name a few). Keep bringing us collaborative joy and we’ll keep coming back.

By now you’re probably aware that we will be recommending you buy tickets for his return to London in June 2014. In the words of the man himself, “Thank you very much, peace.”