Residing somewhere between Frank Turner and Beans on Toast, Getintothis’ Shaun Ponsonby checks out the latest folk troubadour at the Buyers Club.
We entered the Buyers Club as Katie and I were on stage, and found the place somewhat resembling a San Francisco love-in circa 1967, minus most of the positive attributes. Everyone was politely sitting on the floor, quietly nodding. This is without a doubt the nicest audience this writer has ever been in.
Most of the crowd appear to be student-types, with middle class accents and flannel shirts. There was also at least one guy dressed exactly like the year 1997. It’s rare that bar sales of wine appear to topple that of beer, and even rarer that the bathroom is left in such a pleasant state at the end of the night.
Molly’s Lips followed Katie and I, but everyone stayed stood for them. They were easier to ignore though, and we only reared our heads when they stopped one song to give us a surprisingly graphic description of castration which – like the movie Highlander II: The Quickening – was interesting and humorous, but a little uncomfortable.
Will Varley is probably placed somewhere between Frank Turner and Beans on Toast in that he seems to venture between the earnestness of the former’s troubadour reputation and the humorous overtones of the latter. As he takes to the stage, there are a few people trying to clap along with his strumming, so he immediately starts fucking with them by stopping and starting again.
Opener As For My Soul (choice line; “we never get reviewed” – erm…OK…we’ll just leave then!) sets the mood well for this balancing act. Occasionally he goes a little too far in either direction, even at times stumbling into bland Ed Sheeran territory, but for the most part his charm gets him through these moments in a way that Sheeran can’t quite muster.
It’s pretty clear how he fits in with the Xtra Mile label; he his wholly unpretentious, encourages participation and often changes his lyrics in reaction to what is happening around him, one particular moment saw him make up a song about his mic stand, which appeared to be moving on its own accord. However, unlike others of his ilk, some of his on stage banter appears to be a little over-rehearsed, such as a line about former X Factor winner Leona Lewis in one track was followed up with a brief discussion headed with the phrase “Who the fuck is Leona Lewis? How old are these songs?”
Songs that are earnest – such as The Man Who Fell To Earth – are hurriedly followed by witty muses on the mundane, like The Self Check Out Shuffle. It makes for some odd juxtapositions, but ultimately doesn’t matter much when fully evaluated. He’s a breezy chap, and instantly likeable. By the time we all headed for the door, it was pretty clear that no-one was going away disappointed.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Simon Lewis