A hot and sweaty Borderline marked Patrick Watson’s one-off headline gig in the UK as part of a short European tour. As most of the audience took their places on the floor, the night began magically with some wonderful vocal performances from both support acts, Laura Groves and Jaymay.
By the time Watson bounded on, clutching his bottle of beer, the venue was packed. The four men who make up this band named after its front man, armed variously with beards and hats, took their positions and launched into a series of songs from the band’s forthcoming album Close To Paradise.
In between songs Watson, sitting on the right-hand side of the stage buried deep in keyboards, had something of the cheeky monkey about him. He joked about being on the wrong side, and how it mirrored his difficult experiences crossing the road in this foreign land. Having spilled his beer after the second song he launched into something of a comedy routine about the smoking ban here. He spilled another beer soon after.
An early highlight was Weight Of The World complete with huge climactic ending. Live, the band seemed to embrace a noisy side to their music which doesn’t come through so much on record. Drifters in particular lost some of its beauty to the feedback. But The Great Escape was performed with a delicate touch and sounded sublime. Beginning with just Patrick accompanying himself on piano it grew to encapsulate the other three adding subtle and minimalistic touches to complete on of their stand out tracks.
With the various band members really getting into the performance by now, they moved through the instrumental Mr Tom and current single Luscious Life, with drummer Robbie Kuster proving his musical worth. They ended with a stripped back, acapella version of Man Under The Sea with all four leaving their places and performing amongst the crowd. Patrick’s vocals were, as expected, amazing all night, but the charismatic frontman really went for it here conducting the audience in a mass sing-a-long.
Generally, the band seemed rawer live than expected. It wasn’t just a run through of the album, but a different experience altogether. The four of them work together incredibly and hopefully they’ll keep coming back to Europe to support what could be one of the albums of the year.