14 September 2007

Pearson gives the Devil a run for his money

Seeing Josh Pearson live is (in spite of the over-eagerness of his fans) something of a mystical experience. His hand - a great, tickling spider that spins five strings to intimate an approaching storm in some lonely night time Nevada desert – works itself into such a spindly blur that you’d almost believe he owns several more fingers than his maker normally allows.

He’s both slight and savage in appearance, his long beard a bees-nest foaming about his collarbone, and it’s difficult to look him in the face as he sings about demons. Eyes wild, he bares his teeth in an expression so intimately pained you feel as though you’re looking in on the private execution of an outlaw.

Pearson’s harsh visions blow like tumbleweeds in the imagination, which is only enhanced by the basement rec room quality of the venue – a sleepover pillow stuffed into the kick-drum, amps balanced on milk crates, wood panelling and dark industrial carpet with all manner of plumbing and electricity exposed – this is a childhood place of potential.

Josh is sober now, which I hear is a good thing - from the performer himself and from anyone who’s ever watched him self-destruct onstage. Instead of burning up, he does something much more impressive, and walks slowly, barefooted across hot coals.

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