London 93 Feet East – Feb 15, 2005
By Mandy Carter.
A packed Shoreditch venue of parker wearing, Red Stripe guzzling trendy-somethings preludes the arrival of an acoustic session with James Yorkston.
James is a singer / songwriter in the best folksy tradition, weaving together a seemingly effortless mix of sweet melodies, haunting lyrics, irrelevant humour and the odd blast of harmonica. Usually to be found with The Athletes, at this gig it was just the one man minus his stage stool. Looking more like your high school Art teacher, James ambles onto the stage amidst a cheery round of applause from that small section of the audience with enough room to move their arms. I, sandwiched into a small section by the bar, managed a small shoulder shrug of appreciation.
He did not keep us waiting and launched into his set. Strong voice carries you away with his words, guitar chords formed and broke again as with the rise of the tide. This was powerful stuff, and the crowd hung onto his every line. Sweet lyrics scattered here and there within his songs, achingly romantic, equally compelling. I wanted to paint his words; it felt that visual in places.
New single Shipwreckers was a high point, the only low point was that some of the songs sounded like music to bathe to, which would have suited a more intimate venue. 93 Feet East, although boasting a gorgeously scruffy bar round the back, has a much narrower live venue room. It was packed to the rafters, and you were lucky if you saw a glimpse beyond the scruffily styled head in front of you, let alone caught sight of the singer in all his glory on the stage.
Not a gig to dance to, not a gig to drink through, but a gig to make you listen, think and quietly imagine a beautiful life far from the madding crowd. Surrounded as I was by a sea of shoulder bag hoisting media darlings…this irony was not lost on me.