Simone Felice, Paul Straws: The Kazimier, Liverpool


Simone Felice plays like a man on a mission while baring his soul, Getintothis’ Alan O’Hare joins a captivated Kazimier for a one-off experience.

I love Oscar Wilde.
But you can have too much of a good thing. We’re all guilty of taking his insightful musings on the human condition and distorting them for our own gain. “Talent borrows, genius steals,” is a favourite of many artists and performers. It can be true – but where do you draw the line?
Originality. That’s where. Simone Felice took to the stage at The Kazimier last night looking like Bruce Springsteen (in 1973), singing like Bob Dylan (in 1966), moving like Neil Young (anytime in the 1970s) and playing drums like Levon Helm (in The Last Waltz).
But he was nothing less than himself throughout.
He lived every lyric, felt every note and hit every beat. Switching from acoustic guitar to drums, he was the consummate front man and a captivating presence all night.
Better known as the drummer, writer and vocalist of Catskill Mountain troubadours The Felice Brothers – and the creator of folk-soul outfit The Duke & The King – Felice is now out on his own, following open-heart surgery in 2010.
You can tell he hears something ticking: this is an artist on a mission to feel. Some would find his earnest shtick cheesy, but, then again, some can’t come close to heart and soul without getting embarrassed.
Tracks like New York Times and Hey Bobby Ray are cut from classic cloth and sound like familiar old favourites already.
The talented songsmith takes common chords and twists magical new melodies from them – while never paying any less than complete attention to rhythm and tunes.
Held up by bass and electric guitar/mandolin, the songs were given the colour that suited them best: a dash of Dobro here, a distorted guitar drenched with reverb there and the sound was great.
The healthy crowd were quiet but captivated (a common trait these days: where have all the dancers gone?!) and Felice had them in the palm of his hand.
A long ferry from Dublin had drained the band during the day – but they had a tail wind from the Irish Sea throughout and the 90 minute set whizzed by.
Felice also paid tribute to James Gandolfini, The Sopranos star having passed away earlier this week, dedicating a rough and ready take on ‘the other boss of New Jersey’sAtlantic City to the actor, as he continued to own the stage.
Finishing with a cover of “a song that saved my life,” Neil Young‘s beautiful ballad Helpless, Felice came down from the stage to join the throng and lead a sing-a-long finish. And, as he shook hands and joined in, there was not a soul in the place who didn’t believe him.
And therein lays the truth. Fantastic.
Paul Straws provided support from Felice earlier at the Kazimier

Pictures by Getintothis’ Tom Adam.
Further reading on Getintothis
Simone Felice reviewed live at The Shipping Forecast.
Paul Straws – Ones to Watch at Liverpool’s Threshold Festival.