Sunday, May 13, 2012

Josh Pyke - The Forum

Do you ever find yourself feeling nostalgic for times or places that you've never even lived through or been to? I do, a lot, especially through music. When I listen to Joni Mitchell, I feel nostalgic for Woodstock. When I listen to Hole, I feel nostalgic for the nineties girl punk scene, even though I was listening to Hanson in the ninties, and watching Rugrats and wearing butterfly clips, none of which are particularly riot grrrl. When I listen to Josh Pyke, I feel nostalgic for the ever elusive perfect summer. 

 This photograph seemed most fitting after the depature of the dear Mr. Sendak

I went along to his show, with my friend Holly, and her friend Hollie, at the Forum, which is the perfect venue for him, really. He's the kind of musician you want to listen to, in fields under a sprawling starlit sky, and the Forum's perpetual midnight ceiling is the closest thing we have to that in the city. 
I was excited to find out on arrival that he was being supported by Gossling, an artist I had heard and enjoyed many times on the radio, but knew little about. Well, she did not disappoint; in fact, she surpassed my expectations with her almost too adorable, pitch perfect voice. And she's also quite funny; the first thing she did after introducing herself was admit to being on our side of the stage many a time, looking up at the one Grecian statue with the rather large package. Needless to say, I came away with her latest EP, three parts because her music is gorgeous and one part because of that story. 

One of the many things I love about Josh Pyke's music is that he has an amazing handle on words; his lyrics are unsurpassed for their ability to tell stories, expertly weaved into melodies that are of equally good quality. One is never sacrificed for the other, they are perfectly complimentary. So when he's standing right there in front of you, unravelling these story songs, you can't help but be transported to another place, somewhere where houses are living organisms, people run around without shoes on, sand and salt is stuck to everything, and love is a tangible thing you can hold in your hands, even if it's just for a short time. That's how I feel when I listen to his albums, and it's multiplied by about one hundred when experiencing it live.

Although this was the third time I'd seen him, this time had to be my favourite,  in terms of venue, vantage point and setlist. This wasn't an album tour, this was a Josh Pyke tour; he played a lot of songs from his first EP, Feeding the Wolves, including Beg Your Pardon, which is still one of my favourite songs of his, and chose a lot of quieter, more melancholy tracks over more upbeat numbers or the 'hits', songs like Vibrations in Air, Follow Me Down, and an amazing rendition of Punch in the Heart, with Gossling coming out again to do an exquisite job of Katy Steele's part; urgh, just thinking about it now gives me shivers. It was almost like a pied piper-esque adventure (minus the children stealing), him leading through the maze of his back catalogue, and us following , anticipating  but very unsure of which song he was going to play next. There were songs in there that I hadn't listened to for months, and it was like discovering them again for the first time. He did choose some crowd favourites, however, like 'The Summer', 'Memories and Dust' and of course 'Middle of the Hill', all of which stirred up some rather moving sing a longs. And he can entertain a crowd just by speaking; his banter included a story of how he smashed his two front teeth, and used the insurance money to take a trip to Europe instead of getting them fixed properly, and a hilarious impression of Richard Mercer from Lovesong Dedications. I'd love to pick his brain one day, but my nerves turn to jelly any time I'm even in the same room as someone I admire this much.

All in all I had a wonderful time, and I am sad that he won’t be touring for a while now, as he's off to work on another album. But once that's out, I urge you to jump on some tickets as soon as you can,
and in the meantime, give his any of his records a spin. And then let me know what kind of places they make you feel nostalgic for. 

Highlights: Punch in the Heart feat. Gossling, Sew My Name, Love Lies, Beg Your Pardon, Middle of the Hill, Feeding the Wolves, The Summer, The Lighthouse Song. 

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