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Nine months on the road will wear out the toughest performer, and for this gentle soul it has definitely been taking its toll. Josh T Pearson has a cold and gratefully receives the pack of Lockets thrown by a generous fan “Honey and lemon eh? Thanks honey…and…lemon”.

These light moments punctuate Pearson’s set, during which he frequently apologies for the heavy nature of the songs – commenting at one point that he never understands why couples come to listen to his heartbreaking tales of love, loss and booze. Sure enough, opener ‘Sweetheart I Aint Your Christ’ is no gentle introduction to the evening. Running over ten minutes long, Pearson’s crestfallen vocals hang over the silent crowd, pouring out laments to love gone by and the terrible nature of a dying relationship, all delivered with the signature polite tragedy of this Texan gent. This is country music, but of a more pure, Hank Williams sound, taking it back to the roots of a genre that befits such profound heartbreak.

Having played with a variety of artists from Bat For Lashes and My Bloody Valentine, to his forthcoming support spot with The Kills this weekend, this performer crafts something new from this heard worn area of music. In a club not know for its irreverent treatment of bands, barely a cough is heard throughout each piece and the audience seem relieved when he break for one of his regular jokes “Make sure y’all turn off your phones…don’t be that dick head”. The gentle assault continues with ‘Woman When I’ve Raised Hell’ also taken from Last of the Country Gentlemen, and surely a track to be treasured by all who hear it live or otherwise. Closing his eyes and creating a cacophony of sound with his beautifully plucked guitar, Pearson rolls through each song, ‘Sorry With a Song’ pulses from him with no hint of his ailing voice.

‘Singer to the Crowd’ proves the most heartfelt piece of the evening and is immaculately paced, equally wrenching and fulfilling he performs this ‘latest smash hit’ with an intense stare latching onto several audience members, ignoring the bass beats of a club night starting on the floor below. As self deprecating as he is politely bitter, Josh T Pearson is a sight to be seen live. Especially with that wonderful beard.

Words: Helen Brown
Photo: Laura Williams