Live Review: Josh T Pearson

31 Mar

Josh T Pearson

Brighton Ballroom, Wednesday, March 29 2011

Tonight has been a long time coming. A decade ago Texan Josh T Pearson was the frighteningly mutton-chopped front man of Lift To Experience, a band which unleashed a torrent of noise as he manically and devoutly predicted the end of the world on the classic cult album, The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads.

Then he disappeared.

He’s spent the intervening years losing his faith, questioning his sanity and wallowing in the misery of a short-lived marriage, before detailing every last fear, tear and sigh on his phenomenal debut solo release, The Last of the Country Gentlemen.

Clad in black and with just an acoustic guitar, right from the gentle strumming of opener Sweetheart I Ain’t your Christ, he plays to reverential silence. It’s minimal yet epic, simple yet spine-tingling.

With his long hair, unkempt beard and wide-eyed stares, there is more than a touch of the preacher about him. Perhaps that’s why he can throw in a mantra-like cover of Boney M’s Rivers of Babylon and make it a sound like the most natural song in the world, when it should sound absurd

Half way through his ‘depressing country songs’ Pearson decides we need some comedy.

He invites jokes from the audience before telling a few awful ones of his own. For someone whose songs are so bleak, bitter and frankly disturbed, he is relaxed, self-deprecating, witty and immensely likeable.

‘Now for some more smash hits he quips’ as he effortlessly moves from lame Minnie Mouse gags to the dreamy and haunting Country Dumb.

Amid a backdrop of fragile guitar, he eerily whispers in his Southern drawl ‘we’re the kind who always need a saviour’.

If that’s true, then it looks like the 200 people here have found one in him as the set ends with a mass singalong to Devil’s on the Run. ‘Now let’s have some fun’ everyone sings. Let’s hope he can too.

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