20 Jul 2019
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Graeme James - Gig Review: Graeme James @ The Boathouse, Nelson - 17/05/2019

17 May 2019 // A review by Jacquie Walters

Every once in a while you happen to have the very good fortune to attend a truly remarkable concert. Graeme James' gig at The Boathouse in Nelson was one such event. Graeme seemed genuinely surprised to have attracted a capacity crowd, but within seconds of his performance beginning it was evident why his fans were out in force.

Graeme James is the consummate solo performer. In fact, this is how you do it folks. He plays a wide array of instruments including ukulele, mandolin, guitar, bass, and, most importantly, fiddle. He is also an able vocalist.

Clever use of looping means that Graeme can arrange his tracks for live performance, just as if he had a full band at his disposal. At one point during the gig he joked about the expense of taking a brass section on tour as he recorded himself as vocal trumpet to great effect.

One of my favourite moments of the night was when Graeme was joined by his wife Zoe - an excellent vocalist in her own right - for a performance of When You Look At Me That Way. The couple have plans to release an EP, and that can't come soon enough for me. Western Lakes was also completely gorgeous. Some numbers were delicate and transcendentally beautiful most were rousing and triumphant. All of them, however, were well crafted and polished.

While his performance skills and musicianship are fantastic to behold, let's not forget the beauty of Graeme's songs themselves. His lyrics are truly poignant, reminiscent of Passenger in their elegant and potent simplicity. "I just want the truth to make a difference" sings James in The Difference and the truth of his musical offering really does have an impact.

Graeme James is exuberant, joyful, and delightful with an engaging patter and a generosity of spirit that engaged and enthralled the Boathouse audience. James has just been signed by the same label that represents Passenger and it's not hard to see why. James is the complete package and is surely destined for great success - not just in terms of audience numbers but, more importantly, in terms of creating, recording, and performing music that actually matters.

 

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