Review: The Mountain Goats at St George';s Bristol, by Keith Clark 4/5
CALIFORNIAN John Darnielle, aka The Mountain Goats, has built up a fanatical cult since he began making records in the early 1990s on incredibly lo-fi equipment.
And despite never having become a well-known name he almost filled this venue with an eager audience. Opening act Alessi's Ark was not a band but singer-songwriter Alessi Laurent- Marke accompanied by multi- instrumentalist Dan Hoyes.
The 20-something Londoner has an interesting voice and is a fine songwriter but sadly her set was beset with technical problems.
The charismatic John Darnielle, accompanied by excellent long-time bass guitarist Peter Hughes, opened with Love, Love, Love and went on to give his fans a set full of old favourites plus some later additions to his recently re-released and remastered "classic" album All Hail West Texas.
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Mostly they were extremely dark, well-crafted narratives packed with sharp observations and surreal imagery, served up with a lot of odd-ball humour between songs.
Darnielle could often sound like an angry-sounding punk, but the highspots of the set were when he sat down at the grand piano and sang quieter numbers, particularly Genesis 30:3 and the stunning 1 Samuel 15:23.
Following In Memory of Satan and the dramatic and oddly titled Ezekiel 7 And The Permanent Efficacy Of Grace there were long pauses before the audience began to applause almost as if no one wanted to break the spell. He closed with Furniture Store and the demand for more was deafening.
They did return, giving us singalong versions of No Children and the song of crushed dreams The Best-Ever Death Metal Band In Denton.
Thoughtful, quirky, stimulating and hugely entertaining, this was a remarkable gig by a unique performer.