Normally when visiting Lille Vega you’d think of it as a decent venue, not particularly small despite the name. But this day as Jonathan Wilson and his band stand on stage it seems strangely small, I’m not sure if they’re unusually tall any of them, or if it’s just their musical greatness that generates this contraction of the surroundings.
One thing is for sure, they are great musicians (tall or not) and it feels almost unnecessary to notice because they know it! Starting off with the opening track from Wilson’s second album ‘Fanfare’, including a long dramatic intro, everyone is faced against the stage. The spartanic lights allow Wilson to remain strange and incognito in the shade of his Stetson, but when the first lines gently slip off his tongue he is naked as ever: “Uh let me love you, it’s all that I can do, I’d like to touch you, Uh I’m in love with you”. Somehow this lyrical pathos makes the audience stop breathing for a while though it’s just on the tip of being too banal.
Like his lyrics Wilson’s music is just really classic. And American. He has not been afraid to step into a musical folk-country-blues- rock tradition alongside immortalised fellas like Dylan and Young whom to many are the only true rulers of the sacred American rock lands. But the gentle spirit (!) of Wilson adds new blood to these old fields and a sold out show in Copenhagen is a proof that spiritual and classic rock songs still have cultural relevance. For sure the bass player has not given up on the old days looking as if he just wandered out of Woodstock ’69 – the long hair on top of a tie dye t-shirt together with an electric bass really completed the look.
There’s not done a lot of talking between the songs, mostly guitar changing and tuning to get the sound right, which for the band has great importance – you can see they are perfectionists. The bringing of an monstrous lesley for the Hammond B3 tells the same story. And the sound is impeccable, every detail reaches the eardrums from the stroked cymbals to the twelve stringed guitar. However, the sound has to be perfect for a guitar virtuous like Jonathan Wilson who during every song reveals his magnificent guitar playing in long solos. The organ player shows off some pretty remarkable skills on the brown B3, and it’s not only a language for connoisseurs that’s spoken from the old wooden box, you can tell by the overwhelming applauses at the end of each solo. Especially ‘Angel’ comes off beautiful in an extended version spiced up with various crescendo solos.
Time flies by when you’re entertained and the set’s two hours duration doesn’t strike me as a long time at any point. The slow and riff based ‘Valley of the silver moon’ closes the evening as a manifestation of Jonathan Wilson and his band’s superiority. I am standing close to the stage, yes, but the final applause is the loudest I’ve heard at Lille Vega so far.