Written for SHUlife
The Harley, Sheffield, August 23
It was in 2004 that Willy Mason released his superb debut album ‘Where The Humans Eat’.
Back then, fresh faced at 19, people were comparing his drawl to that of a young Bob Dylan. With social observations and off the cuff poetry encased in low key melody and acoustic guitars, ‘Where The Humans Eat’ was arresting in the same way that the folk legend had set his store in the Sixties. Seven years later, with only ‘If The Ocean Gets Rough’ (2007) following his debut, he’s back on the road, clad with guitar, practice amp and trolley, performing his songs at their bare bones.
A pin drop can be heard for ‘Gotta Keep Moving’, ‘All You Can Do’ and ‘Oxygen’ while ‘So Long’ is stripped back from the chirpy folk pop heard on record, with Mason sounding more weather beaten than ever. The crowd sing back the chorus of ‘We Can Be Strong’, causing a slight look of shock to wash over 26 year-olds face, and call out requests, to which the New Yorker duly accepts – even if he can’t remember the words.
Tonight, Willy Mason shows the importance of intimate gigs like this. While others spend their night with binoculars trying to squint a glimpse of spectacular, he provides his own kind of spectacle, and he doesn’t even need a set list.