Review: John J Presley at The Edge of The Wedge: 'There's an undercurrent of menace... but it's a thrilling ride'
This time I was back at the same venue watching his long-time wingman and bass player that night, John J Presley, take the lead.
Touring his new album, the pleasingly alliterative Chaos and Calypso, Presley and his guitar is joined on stage by drummer Hannah Feenstra and multi-instrumentalist Danielle Presley (Rhodes organ, harmonium, flute), and by god do they create a beautiful cacophony.
The album is a dense, layered brooding beast, and I must admit, I had wondered how he would pull it off live. The answer is: with apparent ease.
While Presley’s sound is not a million miles from his musical associate Garwood, he is very much his own man. He has that kind of well-worn growl of a voice that sounds like it belongs to a much older soul – he is capable of conveying the weight of all his hard-won burdens. There are shades of the likes of Mark Lanegan, Tom Waits, Captain Beefheart and Nick Cave.
The set opens with ...Calypso’s two lead off tracks. Silhouettes builds to wailing feedback while Danielle somehow recreates the recorded version’s squalling horns on the flute. This is followed by Sinnerman – a dark, haunting nearly-ballad.
Throughout the set, there is an impressive mastery in Presley’s control of the feedback. He wrestles with it constantly, but never lets it out of his grip.
There’s often an undercurrent of menace and the threat that that feedback could suddenly break free.
The rest of the set is split between new material and similarly hued tracks from his debut As The Night Draws In. Some songs ride crushingly heavy grooves, then end so abruptly they catch the audience off guard.
It’s a thrilling ride.
Opening act are local trio The Pursuit of Pleasure who opt to play totally acoustically from the floor opposite the stage. Led by former B of The Bang frontman Wit, at only their second ever gig they have already got some earworm-worthy songs. Worth keeping an eye out for.