Looking back it’s been nearly twe...nty years since we have seen Joe Henry live at what was my first gig at The Borderline in ’96. Since then Joe has embraced pretty much all styles of music, thrash metal aside, and whilst I can skip over his Jazz diversions all of the albums of his I have are exceptionally good.
He comes on stage to a polite Southbank welcome with just an acoustic guitar and rolls off a couple from his new album. He is joined on stage throughout the evening at various times by new album collaborator John Smith on guitar and vocals, Lisa Hannigan who has a sweet albeit slightly weak voice and finally Levon Henry on Woodwind, who later research shows is his son. He seems in awe of his dad, is clearly very nervous, and uncomfortable by being both on stage and probably wearing an awful library assistant combo of shirt, tie and tweed jacket.
The next 90 minutes passes by very quickly with beautiful songs absorbing you into the moment. His voice is quite unique taking in Elvis Costello, Terrell, Randy Newman and Steve Forbert. His self-deprecating banter between songs is warming, engaging, witty and complements the tone of the evening.
All song requests are ignored and Joe name checks Billy Bragg whose last album he produced and with little encouragement gets up from the seat behind us and joins him on stage for the encore.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening full of great songs and an early finish that this old man certainly appreciated.
Keep on rockin’ y’all