Willy Mason


Nina Violet is the first artist to play this evening at the Deaf Institute. The room is more than half filled, with no more space available on the bleacher style seats, and the floor space populated part way to the stage. No one is yet venturing too close to the front, and there is a large gathering at the bar, but overall it is a good attendance for a warm up act. However, the soft songs pleasantly sung by Nina are faced against the large chattering audience, making her hard to hear at first. It is about halfway through her set as the crowd warms to her, but she deserves it, the high vocal notes emitted during songs like ‘Better Than To Bruise You’ are reminiscent of early Joni Mitchell. The chattering of the audience is exchanged for applause and attention. Nina swaps from fingerpicking to a light strum for her final song, ‘All Or Nothing’, and she is accompanied by an oboe – you don’t hear enough oboes in my opinion. The whole mellow set is soothing.

The room has filled up completely as Willy Mason saunters onto the stage in his shabby chic suit and pristine semi-hollow guitar for the sold-out show. There is no longer any space front of stage. We start with a slow set of emotional songs. His cool deep voice and warm guitar tone resonate in your body as much as the lyrics do. A highlight being ‘If It’s The End’, before Nina Violet joins the music of the evening again, along with the rest of Willy’s backing band. They clamber onto the stage from all directions. The pacing is excellent as we move forward into toe tapping territory for ‘Show Me The Way To Go Home’.

The crowd are in great spirits during singalong choruses in ‘Talk Me Down’ and ‘We Can Be Strong’. The huge grin emitted from Willy during ‘Carry On’ proves his spirits are up as high as the eager crowd’s are. The pacing carries on in the right direction as we move from toe tapping to a genuine jig as the front of stage erupts into dance for ‘Restless Fugitive’. Mason is solo again for the final track, an encore of ‘Oxygen’. There is one person front of stage who may have had a little too much, but Willy keeps everything together: “eyes on me, focus, it’s just you and me.” The “you and me” may not necessarily be true as the entire crowd sings along to this excellent track from Mason’s early years, but she avoids the bouncer. They are on for another show tomorrow at the Castle Hotel, if it wasn’t sold out I would go again, this has been one of the most fun shows I have seen.

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