Phoenix Morby took to the stage with surely the haircut of the weekend, dressed in a Kezia Gill T shirt, looking less than his 36 years and opened a capella with “Rear View Mirror”, which turned into engaging acoustic number after the first verse, it was the first song he ever wrote, reflecting on bad memories. Next was a song about a deal with the devil “Rattlesnake Highway”, wandering around the stage during the non vocal parts, this was atmospheric stuff.
Taking its inspiration from a John/June Carter Cash documentary, “Whiskey” deals with the uncomfortable feeling of trying to remember what you’ve done wrong but not even being able to recall quite what it was you've done. – Listing a litany of regret, - this was delivered with some real pathos capturing the confusion of the person in the song.
Kris Kristofferson was revealed to Phoenix’s idol, an unlikely influence possibly, “Nobody Wins” and "Me & Bobby McGee”, were wheeled out in tribute, the former successful than the latter.
Having lived for a while in Placidville – Northern California – “Hangtown” – including CCR references and J Cash - this was much better especially as this was the first time it was played live. Phoenix admitted to being "honoured and privileged to even be on stage" – but he earned his place with an earnest set and songs like "Brand New" about being in a relationship that no one wants you to be in even though you know you should be was an interesting piece of writing, "no-one ever believed that you could be right for me" coming from a unique angle much like "Whiskey" had earlier had been a twist on what would normally be expected from a Country song.
The opening guitar flourish to Creedence Clearwater Revivial’s "Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” was a much a better choice for a cover and fitted Phoenix’s style much better than the earlier covers. Taking a sip of a lager before continuing with a song about “suicide!!” – “Butterfly” dealing with the coming back from an extreme low, beneath a somewhat deadpan delivery lurked a tender song. To many this set might have seemed a little dour but throughout there were little flashes of dark humour - like selling your soul to the devil etc, that kept your attention.
“Chalk Pit” with its references to Portsmouth was Phoenix's love letter to Pompey, a place you could tell he still has a deep passion for. Choosing to close with another Creedence song, a slowed down version of “Fortunate Son” which again much more suited his voice and was a song as pertinent to today as it ever was. As the weekend progressed it was great to see that Phoenix stayed to watch and interact with the other acts, as much a fan as the rest of us.
Closing out with “a very bad love song”, “Broken Battered and Used”, thinking of someone else when your with current partner. –
A set somewhat low on laughs but entertaining nonetheless.