The Felice Brothers are oddly positioned at the moment, poised between the old-time instrumental sing-a-longs of their earlier records and the far more experimental sound of their latest, 'Celebration, Florida'.

For a while this gig was teetering on that edge, as the band seemed to struggle to push new elements into their old songs, which stuttered and jarred as a result.

A band adored for their darkly musical country folk, it seems near perverse that they would turn the night’s version of 'The Greatest Show On Earth' into something near spoken word in tone. The addition of electronic samples in contrast seem to dilute their more traditional musicality when applied retrospectively to older material, although it works beautifully on 'Celebration, Florida'. While their new material maintains their dark tone – the tale in 'Honda Civic' of “Two shots in the windshield/Four in the passenger side” being a typical Felice Brothers' story of bullets and broken dreams – the band initially seem almost disinterested in their older creations, knocking them out to get onto their fresher songs.

But about half way through it all came together. As 'Ponzi' (from 'Celebration...') merged flawlessly into crowd-pleaser 'Take This Bread', the band stepped it up and ever so slightly backwards.

The appearance of the Hold Steady's Craig Finn on stage to deliver his own unique delivery on perhaps their most famous song, 'Frankie's Gun', surprisingly feels like the icing on the cake of a brave change from the norm, rather than another needless foray into new territory. Even their assumption of Bruce Springsteen's 'Darkness on the Edge of Town' came off beautifully.

They proceeded to play out a triumphant final half with the crowd roaring along every chorus, showing that they can merge their old and new in a glorious fashion if they choose to, and leaving a happy to crowd to spill into the night, raised again by a band who find the uplift in tales of desolation and woe.












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Commenting On: KOKO, London, 20/3/2012 - Felice Brothers








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