Josh T. Pearson used to conjure up fire and brimstone dramatics with his band Lift To Experience in the early 2000s but since then he has retreated into a solo career with one album and a reputation for intense and drawn out live performances of his songs.
With the audience sprawled and seated across the venue floor Pearson lightened the atmosphere with some observations about his first visit to Australia, foot massages and those “hippies in Melbourne” before he took the audience on a long journey through a mere 5 songs across the following eighty minutes. Highlights Sweetheart, I Ain’t Your Christ and Country Dumb traveled from fast, feathery finger picked notes to intense flurries of strummed strings as he detailed the heart wrenching details of a doomed relationship.
If Pearson’s songs are long and heavy-going on record they’re stretched and explored even more on stage. At times he stepped back from the mic, still singing and drawing the attentive and silent audience even deeper into his biblical themed despair. Religion is a theme in his work and that extended to the closing cover of the gospel song Will The Circle Be Unbroken and the news that he is planning to record a whole album of such songs.
The absolute hypnotic focus of the audience, doomed beauty of Pearson’s songs and his hilarious banter made for a evening of music that felt special, intimate and strangely uplifting.