Kurt Vile sold out in the click of two fingers the London’s premier venue, Scala in Kings Cross on Thursday, September 8th. The greatly hyped artist, alongside his backing band, the Violators, played to a sold out crowd of 1,150, to the great excitement of all in attendance.
The Bob Dylan comparisons seem so painfully obvious, but the sheer quality of Vile’s song writing and the ease of delivery seem like they could have come from Dylan’s off spring himself. Vile’s natural ability shines through as each track rolls off his tongue as he was born to sing these very songs, each with it’s own charm. The sheer consistency of the material live is something special – and as Vile performs tracks both alone with an acoustic guitar and others with a full backing band, and even when performed live there does seem to be a polished quality to his performance in a strange manner – his nonchalant attitude and effortless persuasion.
Vile opened up his set solo, on a darkened stage, waves of swept, dark hair in his face, with a delicate version of “Blackberry Song”. Powerful, skilful and on point, it’s clear to see and hear from the word go that Vile has oozes an enormous amounts of songwriting talent and musical precision that not many breakout songwriters in the last ten years possess.
Although a change in pace occurred when Vile’s backing band, the Violators, join him on stage, he continued his set by showcasing his latest album, Smoke Ring For My Halo (Matador, 2011), as well as mixing in material from his lesser known three previous albums. It’s a wonder how Vile seemed to stay out of the independent limelight with such a raw talent and individual, instantly recognizable voice. However, since being signed to one of the most outstanding independent labels in 2011 has given the boost this young man – whose deep, soulful voice is timeless – bringing Vile up to the forefront of the independent scene.
Vile’s backing band is solid. They ooze potential, with each track performed with intense precision, commitment without being overplayed. Vile, however, has a disinterested demeanour, but not without passion. Although his presentation may have appeared to have a hazy, stoned mannerism, Vile’s ability to throw himself into the music and combination of a solid band worked to perfection.
Songs such as “On Tour” showed that Vile is hardly a one trick pony, giving him a lasting power that many singer-songwriter types can’t get away from. Arrangements on this live performance differ from record, a heavily layered relationship between instruments bolstered by Vile’s crooning vocals exhibits that the talent from this band, taken to a different level, and makes one wonder what he could have up his sleeves for the future. It’s clear that Vile has a deep understanding into the solid basis of genuinely good music, something that has been constant in his career. However, perhaps the change in his music leading to his breakout album is not only having a new team behind him commercially, but also the clarity in production on his new record. This, however, hasn’t come to bear on his live performances – not necessarily a bad thing. The oozing, grunge-esque nature of his musical performances hit hard, all encapsulating and draws one’s attention in, unconditionally and undividedly, and mumbling, tender, rhythmic vocal enough to charm anyone.