Josh T Pearson: Royal National College of Music, Manchester

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Delivering gothic tales of adultery, domestic violence and despair, Josh T Pearson may be raw but he’s ultimately one to treasure. Getintothis’ Alan O’Hare on a truly unique and awe-inspiring musician.


To hear an artist do something unique with a guitar is rare these days.
To witness something unique and good is like looking for rocking horse crap.
Forget making your axe sound like a keyboard – erm, use a keyboard – just develop on some original thought.
Josh T. Pearson has done all of this.
His gig in Manchester, showcasing much of Last Of The Country Gentlemen (Rough Trade‘s album of the year, no less), was full of original thought, good songs and a performance a cut above anything Getintothis has witnessed for a long time.
Ambling onto the stage at Manchester’s Royal National College of Music, Pearson was laid bare.
Not just in his confessional songs – though they are devastatingly desolate – the surroundings contributed to a heavy vibe: no divide between artist and audience, no backdrop of drums and amps (just a massive pipe organ) and no bullshit.
Pearson stood naked, smiling and feeling no disgrace with his gothic tales of adultery, domestic violence and despair.
So far, so suicide? Fair enough. But he brings light to the shade with some fantastic shaggy-dog tales and bad jokes, charisma not heard from a rock ‘n’ roller since Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits haunted the dives of East and West Coast America respectively in the mid 70’s. He’s got the human touch between tunes.
When the guitar rings out and the song begins is a different tale though: you’ve got to pay to play with Pearson and be prepared to surrender to him for six or seven minutes at a time.
Delicate instrumental breaks burst into crescendos of echo and reverb and the guitar really does sound like an orchestra.
As the music quietens, his bruised and battered vocal takes the strain and the interplay between the strings and his vocal chords is perfect. This really is a one man band.
Imagine, say, Damien Rice‘s parents had boarded a ship bound to New York from Ireland. They arrive and are immediately sent down South to fight in a civil war for their new country. The child they would have brought up under those circumstances would have been Josh T. Pearson.
There is a European ache to his music that could only have travelled across the seas with the Diaspora and settled in the American South, close to the mountains that reminded people of home. Josh’s back story?
I haven’t checked it out – but we don’t need to. Something this unique, inspiring and original is standing on solid ground.
I just can’t wait to hear what he builds on it.

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