As an audience member there is something voyeuristic in sensing the danger in an artist who’s performance is at an extreme level of intensity.
Simone Felice’s performance on Thursday was as intense as anything I’ve seen.
Intensity, an extreme human condition which can build and destroy relationships, if not lives, in seconds, is difficult to manage. It is by understanding just how difficult this management is that this show takes on a level of entertainment far beyond the act of watching a fantastic live artist.
As a man who has some intensity, but not an extreme amount, I can only watch and wonder how this impacts onto a person’s life.
Set against a back drop of only a few candles, Felice’s intensity takes on an even deep level of seriousness. You could see it in many forms, but especially through his lyrics (“I’ve only wanted to be one of the young, the lost, and the golden”), his refusal to respond to hecklers, and the emotion of his voice.
The room feels a monastery or sanctuary, and the atmosphere draws attention to the words (those again) and the voice, which is equal parts Cat Stevens and (Into the Wild-era) Eddie Vedder.
His encore of ‘Wish you were here’ and ‘One more American song’ is as intimate, soulful, yearningful and purposeful as anything from ‘What’s going on’; a reminder of the fragility of life, the struggles people go through, and the stupidity of war.
Last year I was fascinated by the Rust Cohle character in True Detective; an intense man who pushed himself to the brink of destruction. In one scene he described himself as a pessimist, pushed further he described that as meaning ‘he was bad at parties’.
I’m not convinced I’d want Felice at any party of mine. But I will visit his monastery again.
Support: Gary Clark