Gill Landry and Ian Felice at The Borderline. The Borderline used to be an endearingly scruffy little venue, not out of place amongst the shabby streets around Soho. As development began in earnest, the basement venue became increasingly fragile looking so its smart overhaul in March this year is very welcome, especially the cosy seating areas and state of the art sound system.
An enthusiastic discussion developed among a random group of us clustered round the stage – who were we there to see? Our poll was split probably 60/40 in favour of Gill Landry although the main draw of the evening was ultimately Ian Felice.
I first saw Landry at Green Man festival this summer and was captivated by his voice – a rich, soothing baritone which manages to be both seductive and raw, as on his latest album release Love Rides a Dark Horse. This work finds him examining and redefining his feelings on love after a traumatic breakup – he played The Woman You Are towards the end of his set “looking down lonesome road, so certain. Salvation lies over the hill’. Matters of the heart may have left Landry wrung out, but his compulsive love for the open road seems to provide a more rewarding experience. A restlessness pervades his work as he moves from state to state, seeking solace in a life of perpetual change.
Between songs, Landry shared intriguing moments of his life with the audience. He mentions a ‘Buddhist Dominatrix’ he once met and while the banter got the laughs, the song, Denver Girls is sobering and introspective.
Having seen The Felices in variations combinations: The Felice Brothers and more lately Simone Felice as a solo artist, it was a pleasure to see Ian also embark on a solo venture. The merch table featured the multi-talented Felice bro’s hand-cut woodland-inspired prints and even a volume of his poetry.
Whereas Landry’s eyes are fixed towards the horizon and a life on the move, Ian Felice’s inspiration comes from a place of more permanence, his home in rural upstate New York. In his new solo album, In the Kingdom of Dreams, he enters territory even closer to home – inside his own mind where memories and dreams lie and anxieties about the state of America and his new role as a father surface, such as on 21st Century. He played all ten tracks of the new album over the set with only occasional forays into Felice Brothers territory, such as Jack at The Asylum and Wonderful Life.
Felice’s talent as a wordsmith is sublime; there is something Dylanesque in the way he deftly combines the mundane and the ordinary with loftier ideals, take In the Final Reckoning: “I was squeezed in the back of a yellow cab, Between ruin and fate”
There is a strength and power to his imagery. “I don’t like the moon when it’s a blood-red balloon in this kingdom of dreams”.
I don’t recall a gig where the audience were so absolutely silent throughout; these were two intense sets that required total concentration, it was as if a spell had descended although the applause at the end was raucous. Both artists made generous namechecks of each other throughout their sets, theirs is a musical relationship going back many years. I secretly hoped that Landry might have joined Felice on stage for one final number, but this wasn’t to be.
Gill Landry and Ian Felice