Rod Picott at The Greys, Brighton
The Greys, one of Brighton’s pubs with a great reputation for serving up good music played host to Rod Picott once again. Picott has been playing here ever since he first started touring in the UK and it was great to see him back amongst a dedicated group of fans, some of whom, brought ‘newbies’ with them.
The pub describes itself as ‘Brighton’s Brightest Little Live Venue’ and tonight’s promoters, Terrace Cred, use the strap line ‘Fine Little Gigs in Fine Little Places’ which gives you an impression of how intimate the setting was. In fact, as Picott took the small stage he remarked ‘this is cosy…I hope you all like each other!’
I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Picott’s newest album Fortune ahead of its official release date and therefore had the opportunity to listen to it as reviews were beginning to come in. Music critics have been extremely complimentary about the collection of songs and much acclaim has ensued. I believe that Picott has received some of his strongest reviews and that’s saying a lot because his previous albums have all been good, better than good, they’ve been great! His storytelling is visual, visceral and very often autobiographical – he doesn’t flinch from writing about the vicissitudes of life and when he’s not writing about himself, he’s drawing inspiration from family and friends. Blue-collar life from a very personal perspective.
Fortune is his most personal collection of songs and tonight he performed eight of its twelve tracks – just one voice, and one guitar in front of many attentive listeners. Picott’s weathered delivery gives great depth of feel to the material; his expressive baritone conveys both strength and vulnerability – this is music for grown ups. He’s always searingly honest and none more so than on ‘Alicia’ and ‘I Was Not Worth Your Love’. ‘Alicia’ is such an intimate song that listening to it felt like intruding on the deepest of relationships between a man and a woman. ‘I Was Not Worth Your Love’ …have you ever felt somehow flawed because someone close to you doesn’t recognise your worth? If so, listen to this song and feel valued for who you are.
Picott ‘flies under the radar’ for reasons I’ve yet to fathom because he’s highly regarded as a songwriter for his own work and for his collaboration with his long time friend Slaid Cleaves. They met as children on a school bus, recognising each other as being so simpatico and that friendship has endured to produce strong emotionally literate material. Examples tonight included ‘Broke Down’, ‘Black T-shirt’ and ‘Rust Belt Fields’ which is an indictment on the depressing economic landscape we just can’t seem to climb out of.
Chatting easily between songs, Picott had the audience entranced. The scheduled opening act didn’t manage to make it to Brighton so we got two sets in which he responded to audience requests – this included the closer ‘Down to the Bone’ – heartfelt, genuine – just like its writer!
The appreciation and applause brought him back for one more … his tribute to Howlin’ Wolf, ‘Until I’m Satisfied,’ which segued into ‘Fever,’ which will always be associated with Peggy Lee. Fine company indeed!