REVIEW – Phil King @ White Bear, Devizes – Sunday 13th October

Sheltered From The Storm

Andy Fawthrop

Well the weather had been pretty wet all weekend, and Sunday afternoon was no exception. Good excuse then to hunker down in the White Bear with a pint, and listen to one of the best singer/ songwriters in the South West.

Phil King hails from Bristol, and is now (despite his still-youthful looks) a veteran of the SW live music scene, having played pubs and clubs all over the region, together with festivals, and stints with touring musical theatre productions of “Jane Eyre” and “To Kill A Mockingbird”. So this guy definitely knows his way around a song and a guitar.

And I’ll declare an interest here – I’ve been listening to Phil for several years now, and I’m a complete fan. There was no way I was going to miss this one.

His latest album is The Wreckage, and he was keen to showcase several numbers from that record, but thoughtfully mixed in with several numbers from his back catalogue (The War I Cannot Win, Do Not Surrender, Black Wind Blowing and When Will I Ever Learn), and some beautifully-reworked covers (Merle Haggard’s Sick, Sober & Sorry, and even If I Only Had a Brain from The Wizard of Oz). His opening gambit was Dylan’s “Shelter From The Storm”, a comment on the weather outside perhaps. And thereafter we were treated to two sets of incredibly beautiful songs, each one tenderly and carefully delivered. Phil’s voice is smouldering and smoky, distinctive and an instrument of great subtlety, switching effortlessly from a haunting, gentle whisper through to a full-throated howl of pain. His guitar-playing was careful, intricate and beautifully crafted. There were no loops, no stomps, no gimmicks – just the man, his guitar and the very occasional use of harmonica.

The whole performance was simply mesmerising, and there were times in the crowded pub when you could have heard the dropping of the proverbial pin. The audience was an interesting mixture of people who had never seen/ heard him before, together with obvious fans sitting mouthing the words to the songs. It made for a great and appreciative atmosphere.

“Superb”, “amazing”, “sublime” and “extraordinarily good” were phrases I heard around the place. Not my words, but the comments of people around the room. To be honest, it’s actually difficult to define what a singer/ songwriter could possibly do to give a better performance.

Absolutely fantastic afternoon of class entertainment.

There are more Sunday Sessions to come at The White Bear, so watch their Facebook page and, of course, here on Devizine.

© 2017-2019 Devizine (Andy Fawthrop)
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