Royal Festival Hall, London
30th June 2015
The Canadian singer songwriter stops in London during his tour promoting his latest album Carousel One. Louder Than War’s Craig Chaligne reviews.
Ron Sexsmith definitely knows how to pick his London venues for his shows. After playing at The Royal Albert Hall on his last tour, he was back this time at The Royal Festival Hall to promote his latest LP Carousel One. The show had 2 opening acts with Sam Palladio and Ben Watt. Due to work commitments, I missed most of them but I managed to catch the last 3 songs of Ben Watt’s set. Accompanied by former Suede guitar player Bernard Butler, he seemed genuinely pleased by the audience’s reaction to his material and announced that after waiting 30 years between his first and his second solo album, we hopefully wouldn’t have to wait as long for the third one as most of it was already recorded.
After Watt and Butler left the stage, the technicians started setting up some of the stage props for Ron Sexsmith’s performance. Including cut-outs of a giant St Bernard, a laundromat and a Carousel, they all referenced songs from his latest LP. “Sun’s Coming Out” opened the proceedings and was followed by “Imaginary Friends” from his Retriever LP. Songs off Carousel One were of course highly present in the setlist (roughly a third of it). Getaway Car saw Sexsmith deviating a little from his usual style with a boogie rhythm rather unusual for him. After pointing out that 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of his first album, he proceeded to play “There’s a Rhythm” from that album. The new songs fitted seamlessly among the old favourites. The Kinksian “Before The Light is Gone” and “Lucky Penny” with its malicious organ lines got as much applause as mainstays of the Sexsmith live repertoire such as “Whatever It Takes” and “Believe It When I See It”.
I remember the setlist at The Royal Albert Hall having a bit too many ballads, but the one at The Royal Festival Hall was perfectly balanced with most of the slower numbers appearing in the solo section in the middle of the gig where Ron played four songs (two on guitar and two on the grand piano). Highlights of the second part of the gig were a fantastic song off the new album entitled “Nothing Feels The Same Anymore” and a solo version of “Brandy Alexander”, an underrated song from his “Exit Strategy of Soul” album where the band backed him on vocals with the help of Sam Palladio.
For more on Ron Sexsmith you can check his official website: ronsexsmith.com, Facebook and Twitter @RonSexsmith.