Willy Mason is an artist who, despite a long and relatively successful career, has yet to receive deserved recognition for his talent. Nevertheless, it was great to see his recent gig at The Joiners packed with a crowd of devotees anticipating what turned out to be a truly special live show.
Performing much of his latest album, Carry On, released last year, Mason sang with a soulfulness and richness of tone that is not adequately conveyed by the studio recorded tracks; his live vocals are surprisingly sonorous and deep-reaching, so much so that the dusty, echoing sounds of ‘Talk Me Down’ and ‘Carry On’ had people – namely me – blinking back tears of emotion. Other highlights from the album included a hypnotic and resonant rendition of ‘Restless Fugitive’ and jaunty version of single ‘I Got Gold’ – “about my dad” – that got heads nodding and toes tapping. The set was furthermore sprinkled with well-known favourites ‘Oxygen’, ‘Save Myself’ and a bluesy, lingering version of ‘We Can Be Strong’ that got the audience singing along in elated unison.
Unlike his customary solo set up, Mason played with a full supporting band, including keys, drums and female backing vocalist, all of whom added to the night’s accomplished, fluid feel. Mason himself was good-humoured and totally at ease, an artist clearly at home in the company of his fans to such an extent that the Joiners seemed to give off an almost cosy and familial glow that evening.
Mason could have gone on way past closing hours and no one would have minded; it’s just a shame that we don’t see him round these parts more often. If you get a chance be sure to see him play at one of the many festivals on his UK tour for some memorable, magical live music.