With his second solo album safely under his belt Simone Felice is rapidly conforming his status as one of the finest purveyors of Americana around these days. Fortunately (for us) he remains somewhat under the mass radar allowing audiences to see him in intimate settings such as the hallowed King Tuts, a perfect space to see and hear his shamanistic offerings. A mesmerising performer tonight he possessed a leonine grace, prowling and genuflecting, iconic at times and all the while with that voice, a pure unsullied adult choirboy, soaring to the heavens, tender, affecting. While this might lead one to believe the evening was a worshipful event the reality is that Felice balanced his arching and aching ballads with a fine and earthy dose of rock’n’roll while his rapport with the crowd was engagingly down to earth especially as he repeatedly acclaimed ( and imbibed) the local water of life, singing some songs with a whisky tumbler in hand. It was notable that after the second encore he was off stage and at the merch table before the band had finished, greeting each and all as if they were long lost friends.
Backed by cellist Gabriel Dresdale and guitarist/Dobro/mandolin player Matt Green Felice hopped between his acoustic guitar and a small drum kit throughout the set. A squall of noise from guitar and cello opened the show before New York Times showed Felice as the impassioned balladeer, pleading and plaintive, foot stompingly percussive and matching the drama of the recorded version. Bye Bye Palenville followed and when, halfway through the song, Felice moved to the drum kit to shift the song up several gears it was clear we were in for a treat as proved by a vibrant rush through Molly-O! while an infectious You & I Belong had the audience joining in on the chorus. Sublime renditions of If You Go To LA, Shaky and Radio Song followed with Felice prowling like a panther on the latter as his band mates soloed before he welcomed support act Emma Jane up to accompany him on Running Through My Head. Encoring with a crowd favourite, Wild Mountain Thyme, dedicated to cellist Dresdale’s late stepfather the band then dunked into an excellent medley of Neil Young’s Helpless and Knocking On Heaven’s Door both of which tonight seemed to have been tailor made for Felice’s voice. An excellent evening which appears to have been professionally filmed so keep an eye open for that.