Christians are crazy fucks at the best of times. Throw in the deep south, a family of evangelical preachers and a previous band hell bent on communing with God through the guitar and you know you’re in for an entertaining night.
So it is unsurprising that Josh T Pearson looks the way he does. He’s sat centre stage, buried under a stetson with a beard of such mammoth proportions it would take the hair of a thousand Kings Of Leon to compete. Imagine a Texan Kurt Cobain with a double barrel of angst wrapped up in the book of Genesis. He is an eccentric. On a solo hiatus from the infamous Lift To Experience, he’s here to wrench his soul out through new material.
Forget timid acoustic meanderings. This is load, ear bleeding stuff. Banging a bass drum with his foot, head tilted to the heavens, the guitar scrapes the light fittings like Sonic Youth battling Sigur Rós. Then there is that voice. It doesn’t just send shivers down the spine but takes a rabid bite of the column and chews up the nerve endings. The lyrics are all demons, bloody Christ and a whole big bang of universal doubts. Like Bob Dylan, the imagery might be hard to believe, but the conviction is enough to reach the coldest of cynics.
Fortunately, Pearson has the good sense to break up the reckoning with gags. Admittedly, the laughs involve lepers, dead babies and whores but they are delivered deadpan like Reg Hall rather than a sermon. Introducing Angels vs Devils, he quips “this gets good about seven minutes in.” He’s not wrong.
Still, by this point most people are so absorbed that they’ve lost track of time and the last tube. There are also pin dropping moments of quiet, as Mr Pearson catches his breath and delivers the most delicate of ditties. They are probably made of the same chords as Jack Johnson. Then again that’s like saying Jade Goody’s biography and Ulysses are both written with ink.
Before it gets too cosy the decibels are turned up to the pearly gates and on it goes. Disturbing, fraught with mind boggling contraction and blessed with the emotional power to affect millions, Josh T Pearson is a musical religion.