Micah P Hinson: Lost in Music. A bedazzled Steve Harrison reports.
Despite the lashing rain outside, Carling Academy 2 was treated to the intensity of a Texan inferno as Micah P Hinson stormed through ascorching 90-minute set.
Covering a variety of styles, from banjo-picking bluegrass to lung-wrenching sonic assaults, Micah and his two-piece backing band (which includes wife-of-five-months Ashley) paid unspoken tribute to a set of influences ranging from Vic Chesnutt to Hank Williams.
Indeed, the influences became explicit at the encore, when he dedicated the John Denver song This Old Guitar to his father.
Make no mistake – Micah is a true original, and he isn’t cocooned in the self-absorbed trappings of rockdom, either – not only is he his own tour manager, but he ambled on stage during the set-up to plug in his own kit. Let’s face it, he doesn’t need any trappings.
Delivering a set which draws heavily on the new album Micah P Hinson and the Red Empire Orchestra, he switches from ballad crooning to singing in tongues, by turns caressing and thrashing his guitar with tender violence.
There is a raw intensity to his performance which is disarming and initially masks the dark foreboding of many of his songs. He has had a troubled past, some of which he alludes to during brief on-stage asides.
At the final song, which is so incandescent it seems at times as though the room is bathed in pentecostal fire, he stares almost blankly at the audience, in the thrall of some unnameable power, and although he shares the stage with two others, he is absolutely separate, a man who is utterly lost. In music.
“It’s been so long, I’d almost forgotten how to do this,” he drawled at one point, referring to the current tour.
He needn’t have worried; this was a gig to remember. A word about support act Absentee, who impressed with their dark, gothic soundscapes, a wondrous cross between The National and Blanche, although for me they worked best when powering along at full throttle rather playing the more lugubrious numbers. Well worth catching.