The last time I saw Chesnutt it was for a question and music evening at the same venue just before his last album hit the streets. An interesting evening with musical highs but also the odd pretentious hipster asking a banal question.
So it’s with some trepidation we arrive tonight not quite being sure what to expect. Known for his headwear Chesnutt’s hat of choice tonight is the bowler. He introduces the night as a showcase for his yet to be released album and so it proves interspersed with a few tracks from ‘Landing on a Hundred’. Having previously dismissed his cult classic ‘The Headphone Masterpiece’ I know there will be nothing played from this album.
He kicks off with three new tracks unknown to the audience. He is an enigmatic performer and it doesn’t take him long to come down onto the floor and sing amongst the enthusiastic crowd. He starts the first of many audience participations and singalongs (more later) and it takes a little while for his voice to warm up.
He then segues into four in a row from his last album which ignites the crowd who respond to the songs’ familiarity with much dancing and Chesnutt’s voice is hitting its peak.
An extended ‘Have you heard anything from the lord today’ leads into the introduction of the band where we find out it’s the first time they have all played together. It says something about their musicianship that there’s barely a foot put wrong throughout the night.
Chesnutt comes back on his own for a solo spot with just his electric guitar which is also the first time he uses it all night which is a shame.
It’s been a mixed night with some real musical highs but nearly every song outstayed its welcome with extended orchestrated singalongs with the crowd. He name checks Stevie Wonder in reference to crowd participation and it was this very reason that stopped me awarding a Stevie Wonder gig five stars because I haven’t paid to hear some tone deaf woman next to me belting out the song.
So its highs and lows but ultimately a frustrating night that would have benefitted from song length editing but instead more of them.
Keep on rockin y’all.