Wow, this was a a really awesome gig. Sometimes I forget how much I appreciate people who can undeniably play and sing, write songs and entertain an audience totally professionally, to a T. I guess it comes from having watched endless apathetic and pro-hopelessness style indie bands over recent years. If this was anything, it was not that. Check the audience, fully formed humans, men with plaid jackets, a few back patches, but mostly, upright average middle aged music fans, with somewhere between serious, yet compelled complexions. Folks that feel at once secure, yet insightful. Wow, I’m going deep.
The show was promoted by Brighthelmstone Promotions, familiar local folks known for bringing the best in across the Atlantic folk / Americana / country sounds to Brighton for years. The whole umbrella organisation is made up of a label (At The Helm), management services and the promotions arm. Tonight’s show was Austin’s UK album launch, which manager Jim has been the main man behind over here in the UK. Austin is well known in Brighton however, having played here many times over the years. The community receiving him this evening has great credentials, there’s quite a lot of punk in Austin’s music, and the show is a co-pro with PBP who do a lot of punk, rockabilly type stuff.
Adam Faucett opened the show, I had it on good word that he was not to be missed. The sign of a well oiled gig machine is this, two bands. Two excellent acts on one bill – for this heavy show, it’s perfect. Both acts got a decent set. Adam’s music was awesome. The guy cuts a sizeable figure. From him you get a combined delivery of both elementary compassion and tenderness, with power in spades. His finger style is delicate but defined, confident, but with each of his bellows, you feel it as a well considered ground to the emotional flight he operates within.
The set opens with the first of a few collaborations this evening, Austin Lucas is on stage with Adam immediately to play the opening song. Adam’s voice reminds me of Mark Mulcahy of Miracle Legion fame – this was the dude who soundtracked my youth by the way (at least in some part, a composer of the music from Pete + Pete, go look it up).
Adam’s next song ‘Dust’ is a highlight. The song resonates with me instantly. Between songs he speaks of Oregon being in the South which is funny. At least I think it is, my knowledge of the States is pretty poor, but I at least know Oregon is in the North. There’s probably something funnier about this that I don’t get, but I laugh anyway. Stand out lyrics of Adam’s songs include: “There are bands I won’t play before, and bands I won’t play after…” – I love the sentiment of this, it’s a bit of an in joke for musicians, but that’s OK, we are after all hearing music played form the heart. A theme which continues all night. Adam’s stand out lyrics which work me in the heart include: “Anyone can fall in love”, and a song about being sober and stoned. He also sings an insightful number about “hanging his head on the shoulders of great men”, intended as a notion to somehow learn from the mistakes of your ancestors / forefathers, and be better. I dig. The show has moments of promoting the essence of the American Dream, but it’s not too pushed in our faces, and is, after all, coming from some damn fine stand up Americans.
Next up, the main attraction. Austin comes on stage and delivers us a couple of numbers before walking out in front of the microphone, to sing acoustic, without a microphone, into the audience, siting that he can now see the audience better. This is an excellent way to strike up a connection with the audience that defies the regulation of the show’s production aspect. The production at shows like this is low anyway, there’s not really fancy lights or mega performance considerations / bouncy bassists or whatever, this music is all about the integrity, and sheer heart of the music. I guess a slack description would be “REAL MUSIC” – ha – but I would never say that, obviously.
Back behind the microphone, and Austin announces the addition of his backing band, who are Oxford’s Dreaming Spires, an excellent addition to really bring the music to life. They fit super nicely in behind Austin’s bodacious, hard strumming chord sequences. Austin addresses the plight of the musician that wants to sing from the heart, talking us through having lost his label, manager, everything, and having found a new replacement of all of these things, yet in better people. Austin refers to people and values a lot throughout the show. The lyrics: “Boys who open their hearts don’t drive gold Cadillacs” cement the point. Indeed, this is where we’re at – the music is legit, it’s the age old injustice that rarely do these purveyors see gold in their careers.
The show grips me, really, Austin plays everything with such conviction, and when he is lost in the moment, he sort of yelps. I become confused throughout the show as to where exactly Austin is from. He makes jokes about marrying his cousins in Idaho, and at times references other areas, so who knows, I am unsure how important it is but I love this, the insight is seemingly valuable, and authentic. UK manager Jim hops on stage to help Austin with the lyrics of a brand new song, a few songs tonight are totally new, they’re not even on any albums yet. Dreaming Spires have rehearsed with Austin for only one day, and it shows off their tremendous musical aptitude. Nice job guys.
The show closes with a Dreaming Spires song, an awesome tribute in truly admirable self effacing substantial combined spirit. An excellent tribute, a huge thanks, and fitting. Austin’s new album is out now, get it from At The Helm Records, go see a show if you can as the UK tour rolls on, it’s good to have a bit of an organic exposure to lyric based good ol’ guitar music now and then, but only if it’s legit – and this is, you can trust Austin.
Words by Andrew Halliday
Categories: What We Caught in Brighton