Josh T Pearson
End Of the Road festival
Sept 2011
live review

Josh T Pearson live review from the Off The Road Festival
Josh T Pearson live review from the Off The Road Festival

Josh T Pearson steps onto the End of the Road Garden Stage at dusk, on Sunday – the last day of the festival. (We are informed that it is 7.03 pm exactly – according to the time on his mobile phone).

He tells us that he superglued his fingers together because he was bored earlier, much to the amusement of the crowd. It later turns out that he has cut his hand badly, and used the glue to enable him to play. it must have been fucking painful. Similarly, the harrowingly beautiful, sorrowful songs he shares with us this evening are intertwined with his own hallmark of truly truly terrible jokes – that serve to sugar-coat the bitter pill.

The soundcheck seems to take forever – and Mr Pearson seems to relish this, finding new excuses to delay the start of the set – asking for a hanky to wipe his furrowed brow, warmly smiling as he senses the crowd grow more and more impatient. Yet all fussing and fretting evaporates away into the fresh autumn night as he effortlessly and elegantly strums the chords to Sweetheart I Ain’t Your Christ – the first single from his now highly acclaimed debut solo album, Last Of The Country Gentlemen. I have watched Josh T Pearson play these songs many times this year. The set never gets tired or dull. And this evening, this song, under the September sky, as the sun begins to set, sounds powerful and haunting and gorgeous and sublime, as if i’d heard it for the very first time.

Woman When I’ve Raised Hell is my favourite song on the album, despite the heart wrenching tale the lyrics tell, the quieter parts of the song particularly, have an almost lullaby quality about them, making it ever more touching, moving and endearing – so much so, that when Josh begins to play it tonight, even the angels in the heavens up above are driven to tears and it starts to gently rain. This is the second (and only other) time it has rained at the festival, the first being earlier this morning, when as i walked past the Rough Trade tent, they were playing the very same song…

As the rain drops start to hit the top of the stage and ricochet onto the front row audience, Josh breaks a mischievous smile, and the whole crowd, tuning into the sentiment, bursts into cheer and laughter. After he finishes the song he playfully goads the crowd and tells us how he is totally bone dry up on stage while we are all getting wet, and promises to play us all a ‘rain song’ later.

Sorry With A Song is the next single from the album, scheduled for release on the 3rd of October, on Mute. It’s my personal favourite tonight. During the parts where the guitar cuts out and it’s just the vocal, the peacocks that freely roam the End Of The Road grounds decide to join in and start wailing their hearts out, much to everyone’s delight, especially the singer. Josh follows this with a beautiful rendition of Country Dumb, and sensing that the set is coming to an end, in line with the song’s refrain, we collectively start to miss him before he’s even finished playing it – (‘We say I miss you baby… woman you ain’t even yet gone…’)

If you’re wondering what terrible Josh T Pearson jokes we were treated to mid-set, here’s one you may have already heard at a venue near you: ‘How do you turn a duck into a soul singer? You put him in the oven ’til his bill withers…’
If you want to hear the rest of his repertoire, then quite frankly you need to be there because it’s all in the delivery. JTP is playing shows across the UK this autumn/winter.

Oh, and the rain song that Josh promised to play us? That was his rendition of Singer To The Crowd… ‘You can have me now, said the water to the cloud’… and when Josh sings the lines ‘You can have me now… said the singer to the crowd… gave up and knelt down… you can have me now’… you sense that no truer words have ever been spoken. I have never seen this man give anything less than one hundred and ten percent of himself, when he plays to his public.

There is a sign outside the Rough Trade pop-up shop at End Of The Road. It reads ‘Josh T Pearson will be signing in this tent from 9.30 pm. We will be packing up at midnight, or whenever Mr Pearson decides to leave, whichever comes first’. After catching Joanna Newsom’s set I walk by the Rough Trade tent at 12.30 am, on the off chance that Josh might like a cup of tea – he is of course still there, signing records and chatting the night away.

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