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Present Perfect

Patrick Watson

Filed under: Music — Thomas @ 13:48


Last week by accident I saw that Patrick Watson was going to play at the Ancienne Belgique. Annoying, because I had no idea even though I'm on the mailing list and regularly check. So I was assuming it was sold out already.

One of the perks of having a gf working at a radio station is that that particular problem can sometimes be solved, though I would've easily gone over there and paid premium scalper price to get in.

And boy, was I glad I did! The concert was simply awesome. Luckily I illegally obtained the new album (after looking for it in 5 record stores in Barcelona and 2 in Belgium, depressing) before the concert, because he opened with 4 cuts from the new album. He nailed Fireweeds, the opener both live and on the album, from the first note. Kristien was duly impressed all through the concert as well.

This week I went Watsonsurfing a little, coming across among other things the scathing reviews on Pitchfork Media, which - Pitchfork tending to be elitist at times - only reinforced my view of the amazing gift this guy has.

I don't quite remember how I got into him in the first place, but the first hook was (I'm annoyed to admit) his voice's likeness to Jeff Buckley's. There's all sorts of singers and bands that I've tried to peg into the Buckley-shaped hole in my heart - the female Buckley (early Heather Nova), the african-american Buckley (early Ben Harper), the Buckley down under (Cordrazine), the local Buckley (Arid), however silly it is to compare. I've gotten tired of reading comparisons to Jeff Buckley.

But it was 'Luscious Life' that drew me in, and it owes more than just a passing resemblance to Jeff Buckley's work. Enough at least to draw me in long enough to discover the other sides to Patrick Watson, the effortless blend of classical influences and incredible vocal range, coupled with excellent songwriting.

Not that I needed more convincing, but today I stumbled upon a Blogotheque takeaway show with Patrick Watson (if you haven't seen blogotheque yet, and you like my kind of music, you're in for a treat - watch great bands trekking through Paris singing their songs in streets, metro stations and trains, apartments, ....).

If you don't have time to watch all of it, then take a minute to check out the fourth part. The band is outside on the street in a small alleyway, some people passing by, and they roped in what looks like a random street accordeon player to join in on their 'Man under the sea'. Around 4:15, the drummer stops banging the garbage bin, the people are softly whispering along with the chorus, and Patrick goes over to the accordeon player, brushes the guy's hand away from the keys, and while the accordeonist keeps pulling and pushing his instrument Patrick's hand start drifting over the keys to go into the song's bridge, two musicians on the same instrument. While doing so he keeps singing through his megaphone.

I'm not sure what Pitchfork where drinking when they claimed Patrick Watson a generic consensus pick, but these videos show that Patrick Watson is about as real as modern music gets. I don't necessarily like all of his songs, but they're growing on me more and more, and last week's concert, even without playing two of my favourites, was spellbinding.

His new album is fighting (equally excellent) Phoenix's new album for airplay on my CD players and computers. 2009 is going to be a good year for the P section of my CD shelf.

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