LIVE REVIEW: Decades of experience on show as Chris Smither sparkles at The Greystones

Like many Americans, Chris Smither isn’t best pleased.

Friday, 1st February 2019, 11:51 am
Updated Friday, 1st February 2019, 11:53 am
Chris Smither

And he finds the need to vent his frustration in song, without namechecking anyone in particular.

He refers to ‘Agent Orange’, adding: “I think he’ll end up in prison... it’s just going to take a while.”

The following song, Nobody’s Home, is classic Smither. Ironic, observational and with a driving, beat from rhythmic guitar playing and percussive foot stomp.

“I understand you’ve got problems of your own. Maybe we could do a swap... but you’d come off worse,” he adds with a mischievous, if world-weary, smile.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Chuck Berry’s Maybelline could have taken the audience back to more simple and better times across the pond.

But, ever an inventor, Smither offers it a minor key, a mournful take on the great rock ’n’ roller’s driving classic, where the lyrical distinction between cars and girls gets hazy.

Smither plays another unlikely cover version, The Beatles’ She Said She Said, off the Revolver album.

A trippy dream is given a trademark fingerpicking touch and Smither is joined on stage by Matt Lorenz, who earlier had claimed the rare achievement of being an opening act to draw successful shouts for an encore.

“He’s been upstaging me for weeks,” says Smither drily, knowing he has to up his game in a kind of watch-and-learn apprenticeship for the younger man.

But Smither has decades of experience to draw on. There’s a little more grit in the voice than the last time he was here, a few more lines on that face full of character.

With the wind in his sails, Smither navigates the straits between the islands of folk and blues.

The country lighthouse blinks from the distant horizon.

He closes with Blind Willie McTell’s Statesboro Blues.

As the man once said, nobody plays the blues like Blind Willie McTell.

But it’s good Smither keeps on trying.