Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Neil Halstead @ Mercury Lounge, November 11, 2008

While I'd probably give my left foot to see Slowdive, the seminal British shoe-gaze pioneers, since that's not an option, it's nice to know that I can still see founding member Neil Halstead do his bare-bones acoustic singer-songwriter thing to a packed, mesmerized new york city audience on a chilly Tuesday night. To say this was an intimate show is an understatement. You could hear every lyric (which is in direct opposition to how his former band used to sound). Neil opened the show with a few solo acoustic songs, and then was joined by "his mates," a bass player and a lead acoustic guitar player who also sang background vocals. Some of songs were truly captivating, with the same emotive melancholy that made Slowdive so charming. Hi-lites included a sardonic version of "Sometimes The Wheel," which bashes door-to-door Bible salesmen and the Mojave 3 song, "Trying to Reach You," which was played spontaneously by request. While I admit that at times I lost interest during the almost hour-and-a-half long set, I could listen to Neil's cool, relaxed, British-accented stage banter all day. Like once, during a lull in the music due to technical difficulties, someone in the audience yelled, "I don't think I can make it Neil!" And he responded, "just keep paddling dude." Now, that's good advice for us all.