Dave McPherson is a man who knows how to hold a crowd, and his impressive vocal talents and musicianship make for a hugely enjoyable show. We went to see him play a small room at The Waterfront in Norwich, and here’s what we saw.
The first thing of note was the quality of support act Jim Higgs. Higgs sings songs of his own devising in a voice reminiscent of 2000s California pop punk, à la Mayday Parade, and sports an aesthetic to go with it. The content of his songs fit too; they are, in his own words, “songs about being silly and having a nice time with your mates” – oddly comforting to a guy who grew up on Blink 182 and later, Frank Turner. He really was very impressive – songs ‘Decision’ and ‘23’ will get stuck in your head for days. Check him out on Bandcamp here!
As McPherson took to the stage, he announced, “I’m going to play you a song about how intolerable I am as a human being” and promptly leapt into the beautiful, stripped back rendition of ‘Something Bad’ that I’d been pining for since reviewing his latest album. It only got better from there.
It’s easy to forget that when we see bands or artists live, they’re generally touring to promote an album, and that they’re likely to be under pressure from a record label to push their latest output in an effort to boost sales. McPherson tours relentlessly and operates without the backing of a label. As such, he’s promoting nothing but himself and it’s absolutely in his interest to play the songs that people like. What we ended up with was a set list of crowd pleasers with some new material thrown in. This wasn’t because he was necessarily trying to push sales, but from his desire to test it on an audience and see their reaction. The full set was career-spanning and featured such tracks as ‘Last Year’, ‘Snowball’, ‘If Only You Knew’ and ‘Glass White Flag’.
If you line up the full setlist on Bandcamp and YouTube, it sounds excellent. See it live and be prepared to stand in rapt silence for the best part of an hour. Highlights included ‘Spring: Hearts Need Blood’ (which remains arguably one of Dave’s biggest vocal tests to date and was sung flawlessly), and the hit ‘Faster The Chase’ from back in his InMe days. it remains such a joy to hear, because it doesn’t make any sense that he still plays it. Which other artists consistently play fifteen year-old classics? Dave McPherson does, and for good reason.
Seeing McPherson at venues this size is a delight, though why it’s still possible is baffling. With any luck, he’ll gain the recognition he deserves before too long. See him in a small room while you can.
Dave McPherson will be touring with band InMe and performing further solo shows in the new year. Keep an eye on his Facebook page for upcoming dates. His solo back catalogue is available for purchase on Bandcamp and iTunes.