The Scala, King’s Cross, London
One of the preconditions for a great gig is that the artist/band are actually enjoying themselves on stage. Israel Nash was having absolute blast.
This was the final night of their European tour, which may have given a supplementary boost to proceedings as Israel and his band didn’t have to save anything for tomorrow. Against that friends in Holland saw him Nijmegen a couple of weeks ago and they reported he was brilliant there too, so maybe he’s giving his all every night.
This was my gig of the year. I’ve seen some top-notch gigs in recent weeks, (Kacey Musgraves, Bruce Cockburn, Over The Rhine) but much as I enjoyed them, they lacked was the joy, exuberance, ecstasy and intensity of this gig.
Whatever, Israel was over to promote his last album, the excellent Lifted and most of the set was focussed on songs from that, but there was plenty from earlier albums too.
The band was smokin’ hot and for people who like guitar duels (that’s people like me) Israel and lead guitarist Joey McLellan had a couple of really storming battles over the evening. I should also acknowledge the superb pedal steel work of Eric Swanson, on all but. Couple of songs where he switched to an ordinary guitar plus the sterling underpinning by the rhythm section of Aaron McLellan and Josh Fleischmann on bass and drums respectively.
He opened with a three song blast from lifted – album opener Rolling On kicking things off, with Lucky Ones and Spiritfalls following before the first audience explosion that greeted the performance of Rexanimarum.
Highlight, of a night of highlights, was Goodbye Ghost and first encore of Neil Young’s Ohio. He wasn’t inviting an audience singalong but a mass of voices joined in on the repeated “Four dead in Ohio…” line. Nixon as proxy for Trump.
He finished with an extended Rain Plans and sent us off into the night paradoxically sated, yet still wanting more.
He’s coming back in January. Get yourself a ticket.
A good, mixed age range and pretty good gender balance.
A few people wearing hats. Why?
David Morrissey in the audience, dead centre not far from the front. Israel can’t be a Walking Dead fan, otherwise I’m sure he’s have noted The Governor, staring straight at him.
It made me think..
I love live music and have seen some very good performances this year, but it’s the transcendent nights like this that keep me coming back.