[sic] Magazine

End of the Road Christmas Shindig @ Cargo, London 16th December 09

Now I hate Christmas parties. Call me an old Scrooge but parties celebrating the commercial mess that a far too large proportion of the population buy into are dull and generally give me an acute sense of discomfort. The End of the Road Christmas shindig however has Josh T Pearson playing which in my book makes it something entirely different. As it so happens it also has Esben and the Witch and Joe Gideon and the Shark, which may be too many ‘ands’ for anyone. In fact I should have said Josh T Pearson ‘and’ Andy ‘the boy’ Young, the drummer from that wonderful band Lift to Experience who accompanied Josh on this all too short tour of a handful of dates including ATP. I have to add that I’m not entirely sure if ‘the boy’ moniker really works now but what the hell.

The evening started with Esben and the Witch, the Brighton band much lauded as ‘ones to watch’ by just about everyone. They treated us to 45 minutes of dark brooding electronics, shoegaze guitars, marching beats and nightmare sensibility. This is not the first time I’ve seen this band being a regular at Brighton venues and I can see their appeal. They are good at what they do and Rachel Davies has a voice that seems to be developing and maturing. I do hope however that these talented youngsters keep their cool in what could be a great 2010 for them and continue with their chosen path rather than slip toward the naff end of ommerciality.


Next up are the brother/sister duo of Joe Gideon and the Shark. A good friend of mine told me go see this band when they first started out and I pretty much forgot about his advice, (I should know better Gary). I then caught them at End of the Road Festival in 09 and was thoroughly entertained, similarly so by the album which sneaks into my top ten. Not sure where to place them genre wise so not even going to try, needless to say whatever it is it’s bloody marvellous. So Joe and
Viva warm up this friendly crowd both with songs from the album, (great versions of Harum Scarum and Kathy Ray) and some new stuff that makes me think the next record will be just as good. Joe’s deadpan delivery of some very wry lyrics and Viva’s balletic drumming hold your attention and the songs stick in your head as all good songs should. At some point they are joined by Vivas husband, drummer Mark ‘Arp’ Cleveland (Archie Bronson) for a song and everyone is in heaven. Some have said this is the UK’s answer to the White Stripes but I think that banal comparison doesn’t do this wonderful band justice. Go see them and you’ll understand..


The grand finale of the evening is of course the enigmatic Josh T Pearson and the main reason we came to this shindig. There are very few bands/artists that really give me those goose bump moments that stay with you long after the music stops. Pearson is one of those wonderful musicians that can do just that. Tonight sporting a stunning white fur coat(‘it’s cold here’, he says) and accompanied by Andy Young
on drums he doesn’t disappoint. After an early wrestle with Esben and the Witch’s guitar amp he finds something akin to the apocalyptic sound he is looking for and takes us on an intense, almost overpowering journey. Andy’s thunderous drumming particularly on ‘Angels and Demons’ and ‘The Clash’ adds a new spin on Josh’s solo material and takes me back to the days of Lift to Experience. No beautifully lilting, quiet country songs tonight, (in some ways a shame as this side of Mr Pearson is just as alluring) just an aural explosion. My ears are ringing but I don’t want it to be over when it is. Once again I am completely blown away.

ZZ Top

Josh comes and says hello after the show and I rather stupidly tell him that I always feel completely exhausted after one of his sets to which he replies ‘So do I Si, so do I’ and it strikes me that he is giving us more than simply music when he performs…much more.

Josh tells us a country record may be on the cards next year and possibly something with a full band and I truly hope for both. If anything becomes commercially available I would strongly advocate that you buy it immediately for yourself and anyone else who has a passion for music. Maybe there’s a chance that ATP manage to put together a ‘Don’t look back’ show next year for LTE with the classic ‘Texas Jerusalem Crossroads’….I’m sure Josh wouldn’t comment on such a thing so I don’t ask…..but I dare to hope!

So all in all a pretty stunning Christmas shindig and thanks has to go to Simon and Sophia for giving the chance to enjoy such a Christmas treat. With an increasingly competitive festival market and money likely to be increasingly tight in the coming few years it’s not easy to maintain something like ‘End of the Road’ but it is, thanks to S&S, a cut above it’s competition and for me remains one never to miss.