Review: Jim White – Less talking, more music

19 Sep 2013 @ 10.46 am
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Jim White (left) with Paul Fonfora, onstage at Fibbers

Review: Jim White
Venue: Fibbers, September 19, 2013

I don’t go to gigs. Although it’s virtual heresy to say it, I prefer to listen to MP3s in the comfort of my own living room. A friend and big fan of Jim White persuaded me to join him in Fibbers, to enjoy the Southern American singers’ soulful tunes with the intimacy you only get at a live gig.

Arriving just as the support act left the stage, we stood in the middle of a sparsely populated Fibbers. Just behind a small group of eager-looking fans at the front.

Jim was accompanied on stage by Paul Fonfora, who’s clarinet gave a perfect harmony to his guitar. Jim’s smooth voice and melodic pace were a treat. His style reminded me of Neil Diamond, appearing effortless, laid back and reflective.

Jim punctuated each track with anecdotes and reflections on his life, which usually add to the understanding of the songs you get from a live performance.

Then one of them turned into a half-hour rambling story about his New York cab-driving days. And his mates. And the fact that he’s 56.

His fans seemed to enjoy it, but my friend, who has seen Jim play six times previously, wanted to hear the music. We were appeased by a lovely rendition of A Perfect Day to Chase Tornadoes from the album Wrong Eyed Jesus!

However, not more than a few songs later, we descended into another even less interesting half-hour ramble. This time, the audience were less forgiving.

You could feel the boredom and Jim, clearly irritated, announced, “If you have to talk, go to the back. It’s distracting me and it’s happened a couple of times tonight.”

He came back to us with The Girl From Brownsville Texas, which was mellow and without a band backing him, particularly intimate and very tender.

However, with more lengthy anecdotes, even my long-suffering fan friend threw the towel in. “I’ve never left a gig early in my life, but shall we catch last orders somewhere else?” he sighed.

When Jim sang and played, he was superb. But with only around six or seven songs in a two hour stint, this barely classed as a gig. So it’s still safe to say I don’t go to gigs.