Josh T. Pearson @ Stereo, 26 March
For a man who has just released one of the saddest records in recent memory, Last of the Country Gentlemen, Josh. T Pearson takes to the stage with remarkable good humour tonight. So much so that one could be forgiven for thinking they’d sauntered into a comedy club such was the ratio of jokes – boy can he talk – to songs played.
Opening with a version of Boney M’s River of Babylon – that’s not a joke – Pearson jibes, “I see there are some ladies in tonight, ahh, God will always keep making more,” before getting stuck into the meaty tear-jerkers that examine the demise of his own matrimonies with great depth and emotional vividness. Such is the intensity and dynamic of Pearson’s renditions; the demand on the audience to remain silent is one that’s often hard to achieve, especially when it’s close to a full house and the walls are sweating, but as he serenades his way through affecting versions of Sweetheart I Ain’t Your Christ and Country Dumb, Pearson seems all the more humbled for the attentiveness, explaining the symbolism of the “lonely unpainted nails” he sings of in Woman When I’ve Raised Hell – of which he’s particularly proud – before conceding, “Hey, it takes a lot to be from Texas and be clever.”
For all the hilarity that ensues between songs, Pearson’s performance of Sorry With A Song is a bona-fide highlight and makes it unmistakably clear that there’s nothing funny about drunken fights, doomed romance, redemption and forgiveness. It’s enough to make grown men weep, but just as the tear ducts begin to quiver, Pearson pipes up, “What’s the last thing a stripper does with her asshole? ...drops him off at band practice!” And so there you have it; Pearson is something of a sad clown, full of character and charm, determined to have a good time whilst being simultaneously blessed (or cursed) with widescreen songs that evoke the saddest and most bittersweet emotions. Let’s hope it’s not another decade before we see him again.