31st May | Fiddlers

At the beginning of the night at Fiddlers, there was a running theme of one-man bands. Leif Vollebekk came on as the support act. Sitting at the back, everyone started to speed themselves forwards to see Vollebekk as he drew everyone in with his songs like ‘Elegy’ and ‘All Night Sedans.’ He was a soft, enriching and strong musician that you instantly wanted to find on Spotify the night after. There was one of those moments the night after, where I was sitting with a Polish friend who was drinking vodka. I put Vollebekk’s music on to introduce him to my friend and he turned round to me and said, “That’s real-life shit.” 

Yes, yes it was. 

“This is the whole show, I promise,” said Shakey Graves whilst tuning and playing around with his technical bits on stage at the beginning of his set. We all expected that Shakey Graves would bring his sense of humour to Bristol. He had his own permanent state of stage improvisation that grew stronger into the night bringing out the mad Texan he is. From talking about exploring the world to extensively touring the world, this was the light-hearted side of the improvisation that really stretched into his emotive singing.

He can play around with the guitar-picking blues. Technically he plays Americana folk, which is kind of different to English folk – I think there is less of a soft side and more of an abrasiveness to it. The enigmatic ‘Hard Wired’, had a Johnny Cash vibe. Probably the mention of cocaine, religion and being ‘hard-wired…’

He went on to tell us about the time he met Monique the Freak: “So when I was visiting New York with some friends and I was on the subway, it was the first time I had met a prostitute. Her name was Monique the Freak.” After this, he played his song ‘City In A Bottle’, from his first EP, Roll The Bones. It was a funny few minutes of thinking about this scenario with everyone in the crowd roaring with laughter.

“I’ve come here for the Spice Girls, but you all are spicing up my life!”

After a few seconds of thinking about him playing alongside The Spice Girls, I felt like there was something missing. Shakey Graves didn’t play any of his recent songs from the Can’t Wake Up album. To do the songs full justice, he needed his band for this and it was a shame there weren’t these songs to experience. There is more to Shakey Graves in this album than the guitar picking.

“So this song’s about a guy I met who showed us round parts of Australia’s wilderness whilst I was touring. I was trying to get to know him a bit better, so I asked him what else he did before showing artists around like this, and at first he wouldn’t tell me anything. Or anything at all towards the end of the tour. Then he just turned round and said, “Crime is a young man’s game.”

Someone in the crowd shouted, “I know him! Was his name Jeff?”

Shakey Graves replied, “Sure, let’s go with Jeff!… this song’s about Jeff, and how crime is a young man’s game.”

That’s it from Shakey Spice for now.

See the video for ‘Kids These Days’ here: