Bonnie 'Prince' Billie
Review of his gig in Whelan's, Dublin, Oct 28th 2001
The Bonnie Prince, tonight, seems in mellow form. He's still sporting that Whitman beard, with a Charlton combover and prodigiously applied eyeliner all adding to the arresting theatricality of his appearance. Presumably Ireland agrees with him, this being one of many visits he has made to these shores this year. The Oldham language, Quakerish, arcane and yet strangely modern, is just one of the riveting facets of tonight's performance. His voice, for one, seems more powerful and resonant than ever - perhaps bolstered by his bandmates' empathy.
He's accompanied by (the appropriately biblical-sounding) Michael, Matt(hew) and David, who read him like a cornflake packet at the breakfast table. With mute comprehension and facility they follow his builds and shallows, arcing to a wondrously skewed crescendo at the end of 'Death To Everyone', where the violinist pre-empts Will's caterwauling vocal note, and they strike together in dissonant harmony.
There is an unfamiliar song about sperm-whaling, some lighter material from 'Ease Down The Road', and a seering 'Magdalen Mary', before the old favourite, 'New Partner', almost gets people singing. Well, you can tell that they would were they not so behove to just stand and listen. A single encore yields a spirit-lifting 'I See A Darkness', all the minors converted to majors - and the deed is done.
Economical and precisely judged - with a certain warmth at its centre. This gig was an honest privilege.
Check out another live review of Bonnie Prince Billie one night earlier in the same venue