Secret Meeting score: 86
by Philip Moss
As he shuffled onto the stage in a ripped shirt and paint covered jeans, Ian Felice held two fingers aloft in a sign of peace, and then smiled. Momentarily, it seemed, a sense of amazement gripped him – the humble troubadour clearly didn’t expect so many folk to turn up to see him on such a typically humdrum Manchester night in November.
On this, the first date of his solo UK tour in support of his critically acclaimed debut solo album, In the Kingdom of Dreams, he opened with the record’s title track. However, the melody line that ripped out of his battered Guild guitar carried an aggression not present on record, which allowed his passionate, nasal voice to soar; a pleasant, but unexpected theme that featured throughout much of his set. Clearly perturbed by the political events currently raging on in his homeland, his anti-Trump allegory – written the day after last year’s election – continued the forthright mood and highlighted perfectly his quiet aggravation as he flashed a wry, democratic grin and changed the verse lyric to, ‘Putin feeds a minotaur!’
‘This one’s a postcard about my life back home!’ Felice whispered, as he changed tone and introduced Water Street. The song, one of a number of highlights from his new record, proudly shares his experiences as a new dad and family man and clearly displays the personal contentment that he’s found in his own private corner of the Catskills. This despite the chaos going on in America at the moment, which troubles so much of the record. And, without his brothers who have been his backing band for much of his career, going solo really has allowed his timeless storytelling to shine through with nothing to distract away from the bare essence of the songs.
Before leaving the stage, he modestly took one last look at the crowd – ‘Thanks for being quiet and listening to my songs,’ – and finished with a mass sing-a-long finale of The Felice Brothers’ – Ballad of Lou the Welterweight. The pleasure, Ian, was all ours.
Want to hear more from Ian? Check our our interview with him here.