The final date of the Simone Felice Group's mini Irish tour came to an emotional end last night with the eldest Felice Brother's wanderly wagon of marvellous musicians first ever appearance in Cork. Although not packed to the rafters, a decent number braved a Sunday evening outing for what was to be both a remarkable and memorable evening in Cyprus Avenue on Caroline Street.
Perched upon a bar stool and flanked by Simi Stone on violin and Aurora Bangarth on percussion (both providing exquisite vocals throughout), Felice's innate stage presence beams off of the New Yorker like a kind of benevolent deity, here to help us walk in the light, a feeling of calmness and sheer joy to be doing what is doing radiating from his being.
Technically Simone Felice is the only solo release from the 35-year-old to date but Simone Felice Group was the name on the ticket so songs from the man's many musical projects over the past 15 years or so (including 'Shaky' and 'If You Ever Get Famous' from The Duke & The King) appear sporadically, each complementing the other magnificently. Love song 'Gimme All You Got' is cheekily-yet-lovingly dedicated to his mother as one of the few tunes he and his brothers have ever written that does not "involve drugs, gun-running and prostitutes" while it is revealed that the aforementioned 'Shaky' was played in Dublin recently with Jedward, a surreal experience by which Simone still looks visibly rocked!
The Felice Brothers' 'Radio Song' deservingly shines a light on the backing band with lap-steel player Mathew Boulter, keyboardist Arthur House and Bangarth all dropping delicious solos into the mix as the set neared its close.
The Catskill Mountains-raised songwriter has felt the icy hands of death upon him more than once in his extraordinary lifetime (see here for a recent interview), but earlier today it was the news of the passing of a legend - and a friend - that weighs on the cowboy-booted chanteur's mind, ending the night with a collection of Levon Helm-connected compositions such as 'Helpless' (which The Band famously played with Neil Young on The Last Waltz - the greatest document of a live concert ever recorded) and finishing with Dylan's 'Knocking On Heaven's Door', heartbreakingly fitting for the night that's in it.
If Simone Felice is a little slow for your liking, do not be deterred from catching Simone Felice Group live as the quintet are seasoned pros who know exactly what constitutes an excellent live show with some of the harmonies (and lead at times) from Stone and Bangarth a joy to behold. Simply incredible.
- Simone Felice Group play The Chattery in Swansea (Wales) on Tuesday, 24th April
- All further tour dates are listed here
- For more info on Simone Felice see www.simonefelice.com