Sunday, 31 January 2016

Rod Picott - Holy Cross Parish Hall, Lichfield. Saturday 30th January 2016

Few would argue that Rod Picott rarely disappoints, but there was an extra spring in his step tonight as the good folks of Lichfield were treated to what is now becoming an annual show. Maybe it was the pride of getting many positive reviews for the new album released on the eve of this latest UK tour. As expected these new songs had a significant place in this evening’s show, further enhancing the proof that if good songs are currency then Rod Picott is a wealthy man. Even if you drop the irony a little, enormous satisfaction is radiated from being able to make a living from writing and singing songs following a transition from the hard yards of the real working world. A perfect tribute to Rod is that he acts as a bridge to the two worlds and plants the idea that each of us has a story within to tell.

It was a fairly conventional gig presentation on the evening with no support and Rod playing a pair of forty-five minute sets. The audience was heavily frequented with knowledgeable fans and no sooner had the invitation for requests been made, inhibitions were dropped and a deluge of popular songs headed in Rod’s direction. This was following an introductory section where several tunes from the new record were showcased live, first time for probably a majority of the audience. Rod commented that this was his most personal album to date and the riches that could be found in an album titled FORTUNE were aplenty.

Cutting an imposing presence as he strolled on stage, Rod was soon into his stride and portraying a vocal style instinctively matched with the grit and reality of the songs. ‘Maybe That’s What it Takes’ led off a succession of tracks from the new record, followed by the autobiographical ‘Elbow Grease’ and a family sociological piece based on ‘Uncle John’. The highlight from this opening segment was a song Rod acknowledged as being a co-write with Ryan Culwell and ‘Spare Change’ impressed live as much as it did on record. The new album may have only been out for a few weeks, but it still contained a track shouted out for request and ‘Jeremiah’, an alternative take on the view of conflict, was a worthy choice which Rod used in the second half. ‘Until I’m Satisfied’ and ‘Alicia’ were other new songs to appear following the break, with a brief comment about the circumstances of the latter which far from disguised its identity.

Away from the new album, many old Rod Picott favourites were not going to be left out and rightly so. He was also on top form with wit, insightfulness and audience engagement as it plainly came across that he is a seasoned visitor to our shores, fully initiated in British quirks. ‘Welding Burns’ and ‘Rust Belt Fields’ have almost become the tracks which define Rod Picott as a singer-songwriter alongside the impressive Slaid Cleaves co-write ‘Broke Down’. Of course many folks seeing Rod for the umpteenth time would have been fully versed in most of the stories, including the film credits and ‘Angels and Acrobats’ being the only happy song, but an infatuation with Howlin’ Wolf videos was a new one.

Other requests that helped Rod develop a spontaneous evening of entertainment included ‘Black T-Shirt’, ‘Down to the Bone’ and ‘Mobile Home’. This latter song written about Rod’s immediate life after graduating school early was a familiar one, but for some reason really shone this evening. ’410’was one of a number of tracks from 2011's WELDING BURNS album, which just left ‘Bring it On’ to close the evening as the sole encore inclusion. This was an end that came too quickly, although they often say leaving an audience wanting more is not a bad place to end.

Rod Picott continues to hold the UK dear in his heart and as usual the tour dates stretch the length of the land including many venues fairly clustered together. In return there is an extensive appreciative network which will always give him a warm welcome and support his music. The show in Lichfield was an important episode in this arrangement and it was a good job done all round.

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