Review: Simone Felice Group
Venue: The Duchess, Saturday, September 15
I stood amidst the crowd in the packed out Duchess, feeling like I’d turned up to a sermon for a religion I didn’t believe in yet. Everyone was completely captivated by this man on stage. Wearing a pair of skin tight jeans and a leather jacket, there was nothing extraordinary about him, other than his snow boots and what was about to happen.
Artists are rarely as honest as Simone Felice. He didn’t seem to hold back anything from this performance, he was all there, body and soul. Providing percussion with his snow boots, stamping out an angry beat to the songs held close to his heart.
He is joined by violinist and vocalist Simi Stone on this tour, whose rich gospel tones complement Felice’s somehow breathy yet powerful voice perfectly. Matthew Boulter of The Lucky Strikes joined them too, providing a backdrop of guitar and vocals. He looked like a cross between Ray Lamontagne and Benny Andersson.
It felt like a religious experience. Everyone there was a believer. If you’ve started to lose faith in modern music, Simone Felice is one man who will restore it.
His songs ranged from the upbeat, clap-along classic You And I Belong, to darker, think pieces like New York Times, all interspersed by a brief poetry reading. Yes you read that. Poetry reading.
Sometimes you feel uncomfortable in these situations. Or at least I do. I’m never entirely sure whether or not to take it seriously, he was sort of like a parody of himself, gesticulating wildly and leaving long heavy pauses hanging over us.
The audience were absolutely crazy for Simone Felice. His encore consisted of two covers. Firstly, Bruce Springsteen’s Atlantic City. If you hadn’t already picked up on the similarities between him and Springsteen, you had no choice now.
And, finally, I Shall Be Released, by which time the audience had absorbed Felice’s unequivocal confidence, and perhaps a few units of alcohol. They were singing along with conviction. But Simi Stone took the lead, her incredible voice washing over us, met by inevitable applause. The sing along that ensued felt like a scene from a film. It was a moment.
If you’re feeling a bit disheartened at the minute, in a world where your ears are constantly bombarded with Eighties samples and auto-tune, I implore you to listen to Simone Felice. See him live, and believe that there are people out there still making, and loving, great music.