Friday, 2 March 2012


Chris Smither - Phoenix, Exeter, 1st March, 2012

A short but appreciative post to comment on how memorable it was to see Chris Smither perform so many of his impressive, career-spanning songs last night. He played two sets and it was simple yet stunning: acoustic guitar, vocal and Chris' foot percussion - boots taped on a board beneath a microphone.

His distinctly finger-picked blues tell diverse, convincing stories. The emotions, witticisms and insights of the lyrics produce narratives that truly delight in this live context because there is the immediacy of performance bolstered by Chris' occasional backdrop paintings before he plays them.  It was especially pleasing to hear quite a few new numbers that will appear on his next album due for release in June. I'm lousy at remembering the song titles of these, so haven't. There was one slow, pure blues that I particularly look forward to hearing again..

Chris seemed to have a fine time despite the classic gentility of the English audience: static listening with brisk but enthusiastic applauding at the end of each song. It's not that it wasn't obvious he was appreciated, but it was such a polite and passive engagement. There were times I wanted to whoop and holler, but I restrained myself: the weight of demur behaviour like a heavy protocol. Perhaps I just chickened out. But I didn't sit still.

Such rebellion.

Chris commented on how much he enjoyed playing at such gigs and meeting with people to sign cds and glad-hand, as he put it. During the interval I got my Lost and Found cd as I mentioned in my previous post anticipating attending this performance, and there was Chris to sign and to shake hands. I spoke with him briefly, asking if he played his very early material and he said he didn't often as it was hard to remember. It doesn't seem much to go on, but he exuded sincere warmth and gentlemanly manners - certainly none of the more negative connotations in some definitions of 'glad-handing'!

And now for the punchline. As I said, whilst Chris was signing my cd I asked if he played his early material and he replied how he didn't. But there on my copy of his 2011 Live recordings cd - had I bothered to look - was 12th track Time To Go Home, my favourite song from I'm A Stranger Too, his 1970 album and the one I mentioned in my previous post.  Had I bothered to look, I could have asked......

Next time.

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