Gig review John Smith at the Musician Pub in Leicester Nov 17th 2013
After quite a long row of support acts as Steve Parker, Samuel Idwal and Martin from the Lake Poets, John Smith finally came on stage to play. I’ve been fond of his music ever since I have heard him play a cover on a John Martyn tribute album. And his set in Leicester convinced me of it: He seems a worthy successor of the great singer songwriter genius who died in 2009. This is not only due to his soft and a bit rough voice, his exciting guitar playing and the elegant simplicity of many of his melodies but also due to his captivating stage appearance. John Smith’s amazing guitar playing, his heartfelt vocals, beautiful lyrics and his own enthusiasm for music seem to melt into one engaging unity of musical performance. This is so convincing also because he is amazingly self confident and takes every song in its very own time but he also radiates such appreciation for his audience and manages to communicate easily and warm with them.
John Smith gives every song the space to enfold. Often he steps back in singing and just lets his guitar speak. Sometimes, like in “Freezing Winds of Change”, he just stamps with his feet and sometimes he just sings without any accompaniment like in “Great Lakes”. His audience was very appreciative and followed him in everything he did.
John Smith has a great variety of playing his guitar as became especially evident while performing “From Town to Town” where he also used a slide at times. While performing this song it suddenly occurred to me that a band backing him up would really spoil the whole thing.
Most highly expected by myself was John’s astonishing song “Axe Mountain”. Its lyrics are the most cruel ones I have ever heard. Sung by John Smith with such devotion they mirror the despair of the people involved so convincingly that it’s hard not to be completely drawn into it. Speaking to a listener who felt similarly intrigued by the song I learned that this song also holds an underlying meaning beneath the story told: The despair and sadness over the experience not to be able to protect your partner appropriately.
Most of the songs performed on this night were from John’s wonderful new album “Great Lakes”, less were played from earlier albums like “Axe Mountain” of the album “One Direction” or his rather well-known “Winter” of his first album “Fox and the Monk”. In all, seeing John Smith play life is something definitely worth doing, you will miss something out if you don’t. Check upcoming tourdates here: http://johnsmithjohnsmith.com/