Charlie Worsham - Rhythm & Brews Chiswick
It's a crisp Sunday afternoon and we are gathered off the main high street outside a vinyl cafe. It is a cafe that entertains its clientele by playing vinyl records that they are allowed to choose while they sup their beverage of choice. There are also some reissues to buy and the walls double up as an exhibition gallery, currently displaying pictures of David Bowie as taken by the photographer Brian Duffy. As we enter we are told that any attempts at forming a queuing system have been abandoned, as many of the seats have been occupied well in advance by Charlie Worsham fans desperate to get a prime spot. The man himself is sound checking as we shuffle between the wooden tables and without dropping a note and staying within the framework of the song, he welcomes us in and tells us that the soundcheck is ongoing, as well as informing us that the bar is open and that the staff are ready to serve.
Charlie Worsham is a born performer and arriving in the UK early ahead of his slot as support on the Lucie Silvas tour has given him the opportunity to do a few little extras, such as recording at Abbey Road, joining Two Way Home for Thursday's Round Up and a couple of secret acoustic gigs of which this is one. The Lucie Silvas tour will see Charlie perform in the UK for the first time with a full band so these additional shows represent the only chance to see him acoustic.The bond with his UK fans has grown ever stronger since he gave away an early mix of his second album at a gig in Hoxton, and tonight before the show has even started many of those same people are queuing to buy the same album again either in cd format or in a lovely limited edition clear vinyl version.
Things eventually kick off for real with "Cut Your Groove" and moved into James Taylor territory for "Get Over You" complete with acoustic guitar solo, the acoustic version although without the horns of the record seems just a little more soulful. By the time we have got through "Tools of The Trade" the applause are so loud that passers by look in with an inquisitive look that they might be missing out on something special - they are! Charlie probably started the set with a rough idea of where he wanted to get to by the final song, but he was willing to detour to any destination requested or shouted out by the audience along the way. With that in mind it is a rare visit to a song last played at the C2C songwriters show with Ashley Monroe, "Hope I'm Stoned When Jesus Takes Me Home!" a pretty self explanatory and slightly ireverant song.
The fifth song of the set "Young to See" saw a spontaneous appearance of what can only be termed as the Charlie Worsham Choir who were to take over vocal duties much to Charlies delight as he let his vocal drop to a whisper and lapped up the room singing back to him. He then explained the sheer joy he'd had at being paid by Warner Brothers to record at Abbey Road, before throwing in an instrumental version of "In my Life". There was almost a calypso feel to "I Ain't Going Nowhere" while the choir returned in full flow for an audience request of "Trouble Is". followed by "Lawnchair Don't Care". By his own admission he does not have many new songs or at least none that he'd like to share but when they are ready like "In It For The Love" they are worth the wait, it was described as "feeling honest" and included lots of personal details.
This proved to be a special little section of the show as the next song was also an "honest" song, Don Schlitz's "Oscar The Angel", a moving tale followed by the sheer perfection of "Mississippi In July". To lighten the mood a little "Take Me Drunk" was perfect, and during "I 55" Charlie looked visibly alarmed at some fireworks going off and then remembered which country he was in and smiled. Before we get to hear "Old Time Sake" we get an impromptu impression of Brothers Osborne singing there well known hit "Aint Guy Fawkes"! Timing is everything and this quietest of songs coincides with an absolute barrage of fireworks outside!
The home straight sees another outing for the choir on "Southern By The Grace Of God" which was followed by a moving version of Townes Van Zandt's "Pancho and Lefty". The idea of a potential residency is floated for 2018 with each show having a different theme before things close with a glorious "Please Please Please". There is naturally a standing ovation after a performance with such showmanship, and also a guitar shaped cake to be eaten and shared once he has finished signing duties for those who had waited until the end before making their purchase.