Not Signed In
| Email | Cart | Items
| Photography |
| Buy | Sell |
Martyrs, Chicago, 28/11/2012
Simon Townshend did something to this writer that has never happened before. He rendered me speechless during the first five minutes of his set. In fact, I’m still struggling to find words that adequately summarize the effect he has on an audience.
It’s hard to put into words but I’ll try. First of all, he has got a look made for the stage. Then there was that long scarf coiled around his neck, film noir shades and a lean physique that screamed Spiderman or maybe, “Simon, will you be my personal trainer?”
But beyond this mysterious persona lies a man who has forged an unbelievable connection to his life’s work. He is involved organically with his material, yet seems to feel a great commitment to his audience, in the way a caring crossing guard watches out for pedestrians. As a songwriter, his images are thought provoking and healing.
He began his set with ‘Electric Friend,’ a high-energy ballad from his brand new album, ‘Looking Out, Looking In’, which included forceful strumming and lyrics that danced: “I’ll carry you on my back just to have you here…” and then segued into the Olympian runs that accompany ‘Comeback.’
He followed that one with two more cerebral originals, the latter, ‘About Love’, was bound together by a cascading progression and a melody that ricocheted bullets. There was infectious movement in Townshend’s performance style - his entire body sizzled as he strummed, and then suddenly he would lose himself in the moment and lunge curiously forward like a Mack truck on a congested street.
‘She Asked Me’ was played more rapidly than on the recording, but it still featured the prominent riff that separated the verses and that contagious Celtic feel. Townshend’s vocals were clear and expressive. His voice is very comfortable to listen to and he demonstrated during the set that he can easily move from rock to folk. The extended chorus really gave us a chance to experience the tenderness of the lyrics, because when he used vowel sounds as a coda we could hear a pure and desperate ache.
He sang fervently in another new gem, ‘Making Waves’, in which this imagery appeared: “On a stormy sea is a recipe for making enemies of lovers.” The chord progression grew dissonant, dense with friction, jarring attacks and gentle arpeggios. He drifted seamlessly into falsetto,
Paul Weller inspired ‘All So Real’. He sang “It’s all a dream to me/So why is it so real?” I found myself pondering that throughout the next day.
The prettiest riff of the night award went to another new sonnet, ‘Bed of Roses,’ a song that is destined to be a classic. For that one, Townshend brought out his mandolin.
Little by little we got to see what made Simon tick – “I love playing new songs, but there’s always an element of risk,” he confided, and it seemed that he rarely missed a chance to include his loved ones as subject matter.
He added loss to the list of themes after admitting that a good friend had recently died of a heart attack. ‘Time Bomb’ contained threatening riffs, furious low tones and even some slide. The haunting lyrics reminded us that our well-planned lives could dangle by a thread at a moment’s notice.
More sensate images followed in ‘Bare Assets’, and then he performed another recently written song, the divinely romantic ‘Stay’ and the deeply emotional, not-as-yet recorded ‘Denial.’
Drawing on more of his life experience – for no one could feign the feelings Townshend displayed so genuinely – he drew us more deeply into his secret galaxy: “Time will heal the wounds of heartbreak/Heal the hurt of heartache/Time will be the healer….”
He finished with the title track of his current album, ‘Looking Out, Looking In,’ imploring phenomenal energy, while strumming frenzied, erratic riffs before playing the optimistic ‘Forever and a Day.’
Alone on the stage, without a net, Simon gave so freely of his emotions that the entire audience had inched up towards the front of the stage.
His encore consisted of two structurally strong numbers, ‘The Way It Is’ and the enigmatic ‘I’m the Answer’ from 1989’s ‘Animal Soup’. The set was very much appreciated and the audience might have stayed for hours in this beautifully decorated room, which was awash with twinkling blue holiday lights, but at the same time they were anxious to shake Simon’s hand and to get their CDs signed.
Like any grand moment in life, it all went by way too quickly. But Simon Townshend’s trajectory will be an enduring and enlightening one because he’s not only a phenomenal craftsman, but he has got quite a lot to say.
The photographs that accompany this article were taken by Philamonjaro.
Commenting On: Martyrs, Chicago, 28/11/2012 - Simon Townshend
ie London, England
tick box before submitting comment
Lisa Torem watches singer-songwriter Simon Townshend play a stunning set to promote his new album ‘Looking Out, Looking In’at Martyrs in Chicago
Lisa Torem examines British singer-songwriter Simon Townshend's albums, 2012's ‘Looking Out Looking in’ and 2014's ‘She Asked Me’, both of which he has re-released in remastered and expanded editions on his own Stir label
British singer-songwriter Simon Townshend speaks to Lisa Torem about his solo career, studio work and touring on 'The Who Hits 50' tour
Simon Townshend:Martyrs, Chicago, 12/5/2015
Super talent Simon Townshend played a generous set of his classics as well as tracks from new album, ‘Denial’ at Chicago’s Martyrs
Singer-songwriter Simon Townshend is touring with The Who, performing his solo act across the UK and North America and spreading the news about his current CD, ‘Denial’. He returns for his second riveting interview with Lisa Torem
The brother of Pete Townshend and a touring guitarist with The Who, Simon Townshend talks to Lisa Torem about his musical beginnings, songwriting and recently released solo album, 'Looking Out, Looking In'
Looking Out, Looking In - CD
Emotive and versatile seventh album from British singer-songwriter, Simon Townshend
Top Articles (Current Magazine)
Black Grape Interview with Shaun Ryder
Johnny Marr Profile
TexasBob Juarez Interview
Jean-Paul van Mierlo Interview
Posies Hug and Pint, Glasgow, 28/10/2016
Mike Peters Interview
Glen Matlock Interview
Curse of Lono Interview
Aug Stone and The Love Conspiracy Interview
Lampedusa A Concert for Refugees, Vic Theatre, Chicago, 13/10/2016
Lol Tolhurst Interview
Fat White Family Ten SongsThat Made Me Love...
David Bushman and Arthur Smith Twin Peaks FAQ
Top Articles (Other - This Month)
Peter Asher: A Musical Memoir of the 60s and Beyond Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, 27/1/2013
Deerstock Festival Newton Cross Country Course, Newton, Nottinghamshire, 24/7/2015...26/7/2015
In Isolation Chameleon, Nottingham, 9/4/2016
Jimmy Nail Interview
Webb Sisters Interview
Peter, Paul and Mary Interview with Peter Yarrow
Frankie Goes to Hollywood Interview with Paul Rutherford
Bobby Rydell Raging Pages
Rickie Lee Jones Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, 22/11/2013
Barrie Barlow Interview
Obituary of a Band The Honolulu Mountain Daffodils
Tim Friese-Greene Interview
Martin A. Egan Interview
Top Reviews (Current Magazine)
Band Of Holy Joy A Plain Cookerybook for the Working Classes CD X2 (Radio Joy)
Ray Humphries Nothing to Hide CD (Reybridge Records)
Leisure Tank Wetsuit CD (Galileo Music Communication)
STOOR STOOR CD (Stereogram Recordings)
Tommy Hale Magnificent Bastards CD (Tommy Hale)
Larsen Of Grog Vim CD (Important Records)
M. Lockwood Porter How to Dream Again CD (Hidden Trail Records)
Khompa The Shape of Drums to Come CD (Monotreme Records)
Tami Neilson Don't Be Afraid CD (Neilson Records)
Lucy Dacus No Burden CD (Matador Records)
Top Reviews (Other - This Month)
Songs Ohia The Lioness CD (Secretly Canadian)
Ian Mcnabb Respectfully Yours CD (Fairfield)
Lisa Redford Another Place and Time CDS (Parrot Records)
Jane Kramer Carnival of Hopes CD (Jane Kramer)
Mo Kenney In My Dreams CD (New Scotland Records)
Amber Herd In Cascade CDS (Herdwerks)
Abigail Hopkins The Memoirs of an Outlaw CD (Basilica Music)
June Star Telegraph CD (Safe House)
Lark Funny Man CD (Lark)
Runrig The Story CD (Ridge Records)