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.

Gil Landry at the Borderline

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”.

Ian Felice at The Borderline

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.

Ian Felice on stage at the Borderline 2017

Gill Landry and Ian Felice
The Borderline

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