You could make a strong case that ‘I’m always walking the line between cocaine and communion wine’, one of the snippets in tonight’s long line of lyrical highlights, may be the perfect illustration of the duality in Ramirez’s songwriting.
Equal parts unashamed hedonist and Kerouac-styled apologist, Ramirez has built his full artistic output to be both raw and powerful.
Armed with an acoustic guitar, fine vocal and occasional harmonica, Ramirez is cut from the cloth of the bravest songwriters: the ones who forgo the bright lights, big bands and happy endings to focus instead on delivering something more important – the truth.
And as we learnt when we were children, not everyone wants to hear the truth – particularly if its laced with heartbreak, tales of excess and the struggles of living with the consequences of our actions.
As painful as he is joyous, Ramirez presents his work in a lo-fi, stripped back, ‘Nebraska’ format complete with busted up, powerful, Springsteen vocals. As comfortable to sing about breakdowns in relationships (“Where when you when we stopped paying attention” – Twins) as he is to sing about try to rebuild them (“Even in the darkness you can find the light” – Find the light) Ramirez is most powerful when he interplays his piercing vocals with his considered, and poetic, lyrics.
Standout track of the evening ‘Stick around’ is a microcosm of his work, mixing regret with the struggle of breaking a habit. It’s also sung with the type of passion rarely seen in today’s filtered culture.
He closes the show by urging the crowd to ‘live a life so wild and so bold it exists after we’ve gone’ – this man walks the way he talks: and he’s a class act.