Simone Felice at Omeara
Native New Yorker Simone Felice has captured audiences with his tableau of American stories for some years, offering poetic realist snapshots which show the gritty and idyllic sides to life in the States. Though he was raised in the iconic city, his vocals have a distinct Southern drawl which suits the acoustic folk style.
The singer appears in the golden gilded Omeara – tucked away within a small street in Borough, London – wearing a black fedora hat and leather jacket. The vocalist opens the set with The Projector, a track taken from his new album of the same name, the soft strumming on his electric guitar enthralling all into a revered silence. From the onset, there is an unfortunate amount of loud feedback from the amplifier which is hard to ignore, making the singer stop and start a few times when playing Fawn. The third time is the charm: as the interference disappears with the technicians’ help, Felice is finally able to continue performing unimpeded.
Without the backing vocals from the record, there is an aching vulnerability to the US artist’s songs, a subtle reimagining. Summer Morning Rain – from his collaborative project with Robert Burke, The Duke & The King – offers a soothing melody, followed by another rain-themed track, Your Belly in My Arms – taken from The Felice Brothers 2006 album Tonight at The Arizona. New York Times is another beautiful number, showing once again the musician’s penchant for words, lyrical and romantically inclined, influenced by his experiences as a short story writer and novelist.
With Bye Bye Palenville, the singer tells anecdotes about his time in London, travelling walkways and the Thames, making the audience laugh and producing a livelier atmosphere. His small speeches between songs are inspiring and life-affirming, and having gone through open-heart surgery, Felice shows gratitude to his fans for supporting him all this time, stating, “It moves me to my core to hear you sing like that.” The performer surprises everyone with a vocals-only rendition of Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car, following the chorus with If You Ever Get Famous. The set then takes a turn with spoken-word piece They’d Hang Upon My Every Word, its dreamy stillness mesmerising everyone.
Fans remain after the artist departs the stage, determined for an encore, and that is what they get. Audience favourites Union Street and Don’t Wake the Scarecrow end the performance in a jovial spirit, though the nature of the lyrics remains dark. Evidently, Felice is a gifted songwriter, and charismatic on stage, but the use of unvarying chord progressions make this show good, not exceptional, and fails to set the singer apart from his musical contenders.
For further information and future events visit Simone Felice’s website here.
Listen to single The Projector here: