It’s the fourth of July, we’re at St Giles-in-the-Fields Church, and Simone Felice is obvi­ous­ly enthralled and inspired by the atmos­phere of the church and its grand beau­ty. So much so that towards the end of the set, he bounds off the stage to dance down the aisle, encour­ag­ing us to join in with the cho­rus of CSN&Y’s Help­less. “Help­less, help­less, hee-e-e-lpless”, we all sing, for­tu­nate­ly no com­pli­cat­ed lyrics to remem­ber. And it has to be said, the acoustics in this build­ing are quite incredible.

Simone is a ball of ener­gy, a coiled spring. Wear­ing a striped shirt over his wiry frame, he hunch­es over his gui­tar, open­ing with Splen­dor in the Grass. It’s a still and emo­tion­al start to a song redo­lent with emo­tion. His musi­cians join him after his acapel­la start: bass play­er Moun­tain John from Wood­stock on bass and Matthew Green from Mel­bourne on gui­tar, dobro and man­dolin, and occa­sion­al vocals.

simone feliceSimone intro­duces Dawn Brady’s Son, which he wrote about a dear friend whose father killed him­self, and whose moth­er indulged in the ‘dark arts’ to keep the fam­i­ly. For Hey Bob­by Ray, he hops onto the drums and bash­es the hell out of them with intense ferociousness.

It’s this dark inten­si­ty that is the most over­whelm­ing aspect to Simone Felice. His songs are about liv­ing the Amer­i­can expe­ri­ence, and although  New York City fea­tures in his mate­r­i­al, it’s the blue-col­lar coun­try back­woods that form the inspi­ra­tion for most of his work. Men return­ing from war, a life seen through a haze of whisky, pover­ty, pros­ti­tu­tion, hero­in: these are the themes which haunt him. And yet he is awed and hum­bled by the beau­ty of human­i­ty: the resilience of love, his three year old daugh­ter Pearl who he tells us is the love of his life, and to whom he ded­i­cates a song. And twice he stops to tell us how thrilled he is to be here; it’s not the ran­dom “hey you’re a beau­ti­ful audi­ence” but a heart­felt outburst.

Simone Felice

He’s known as a poet, writer and song­writer but he also has a more hid­den tal­ent as a dancer. At one point he’s freed from the gui­tar and drums and he dances while the oth­er two play. Although I some­how doubt he’s a fan of yoga, he is incred­i­bly sup­ple and sin­u­ous and shows off some seri­ous back bends.

He shares a sto­ry about his trip to Ire­land on a ‘dilap­i­dat­ed fer­ry’ – it’s the cat­a­lyst for a song, and we are treat­ed to its debut tonight. The theme: a scum­bag drug deal­er. It’s one of my favourite num­bers of the night, uptem­po and rocky. We also get to hear anoth­er new song which he had fin­ished in the church earlier.

Lat­er he sings two crowd pleasers from The Felice Broth­ers’ first album: Don’t Wake the Scare­crow and Radio Song, and a cou­ple of encores before he skips off down the aisle to bid us farewell. St Giles is known as The Poet­’s Church, and Simone Felice more than ade­quate­ly earns a place here tonight.

3 thoughts on “Simone Felice is spellbinding at St Giles-in-the-Fields church

    1. Thanks so much :), yes he’s very charis­mat­ic. Seen the Felice Broth­ers (twice) but after he’d left.

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