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Simone Felice - Hawley Arms, London, 16/2/2010

  by Anthony Middleton

published: 13 / 2 / 2010

Simone Felice - Hawley Arms, London, 16/2/2010


At the Hawley Arms in London, Anthony Middleton watches the Duke and the King front man Simon Felice put on an intimate and acoutisc rare solo performance

Simone Felice’s couple of dates at the painfully fashionable Hawley Arms in Camden may not go down in history as an “I was there” moment. But they were a privileged opportunity to see such a talented performer in intimate surroundings, and you could not help but feel that if there is any justice in the world, he will not be playing in front of a 100 people too often. Big if, of course. Playing alone, without The Duke and the King or the Felice Brothers, this was very much a showcase of his song writing and performance. The set list was nearly identical to the recent concerts by the Duke and the King, but with nothing but acoustic guitar to lend support, the quality of the unadorned songs was there for all to see. Much of last year’s Duke and the King debut, 'Nothing Gold Can Stay', was performed and it gained gravity with such a stripped down rendition. The hugely affecting war tale, 'One More American Song', played after a reading of British war poetry from World War Two, was chilling and served as a clear reminder that for huge numbers of Americans servicemen and their families, the last nine years have been unending torment. Not as much as it has for those who live in the lands where they have been fighting, mind. But Simone’s message is above politics and one that harks back to the heady days of the Sixties when people were mad enough to think music could change mindsets and halt war, never mind individual wars. Felice is brave, naïve maybe, to tread this path when cynicism is an easier option. But no one could accuse him of anything other than total honesty. Showstoppers like 'Union Street' and 'Summer Morning Rain' were intermingled with fabulous, effecting, covers of Townes Van Zandt’s 'To Live is to Fly' and his now regular rendition of Neil Young’s 'Helpless'. Originally a drummer, Felice has an obviously innate understanding of the workings of song; the guitar is played sparingly, just enough to bring the whole thing together, while his singing allows yards of silence to emphasise the lyrics. Currently about to start a tour with the Duke and the King, Felice was also promoting his novels, one of which, 'Hail Mary Full of Holes', I bought though have not yet finished. Rather more densely written than you may expect from a songwriter, it remains true to his lyrics in being about the disenfranchised from the wrong side of the tracks if nothing else. The only gripe could be that there did not appear to any new material on show here and those who feel that Felice is the new voice of American serious songwriting will want to hear more as quickly as possible.

Picture Gallery:-
Simone Felice - Hawley Arms, London, 16/2/2010

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Interview (2010)
Simone Felice - Interview
At a solo gig in London, former Felice Brothers member Simone Felice talks about his recovery from life-threatening heart surgery, other career as a novelist and his group the Duke and the King's forthcoming second album

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