I often forget how much I like the Mercury Lounge. It’s amazingly small and (thankfully) has a separate stage room away from the noisy bar. Best of all is the sound quality, which while being superb to many similar venues, comes across far better than it would appear to. That’s why it was such a pleasure to see Charlie Winston travel in from Europe in order to perform. His show was intimate and big at the same time, letting him and his talented bandmates get a chance to prove themselves under perfect conditions. And prove themselves is just what they did.
Charlie Winston, from my understanding, is big in Europe. At least that’s what my Winston-admiring friend says. Of course, fame in Europe means absolutely nothing in the US, and can actually be more of a hindrance than blessing. This is especially true if the NME decides to herald you as the ‘saviour’ of ‘insert genre.’ Luckily, Winston has so far escaped the onslaught of British press, primarily by getting to No. 1 in France instead. This makes a whole lot of sense considering his vibe is pure Parisian troubadour, and don’t think for a second that he doesn’t play it up. From attire to attitude to all but accent, the man comes off French.
The band played through a majority of new album Running Still, but made plenty of time to highlight tracks from Hobo, Winston’s breakthrough disk from 2009. The latter’s semi-title track ‘Like a Hobo’ elicited the biggest crowd response, and that came as no surprise when one looks at all the places that song has ended up. Being that I don’t know every word to every song, it made it easy to take in the dynamic of the band and see how easily they play off of one another. Winston was, of course, the ringleader when all’s said and done, but he certainly let his band have their moments to shine. They responded by executing everything to just about perfection, and the entire set went off without so much as a dropped beat (at least as far as I could tell).
While I spoke quite briefly with Charlie after, I learned from his bandmate that they flew to New York only to play a showcase for some interested parties. Since all went well, you may be hearing a bit more of Mr. Winston in the near future. One can only hope…