Armed with only an acoustic guitar and a microphone, Virginia artist Tim Barry delivered a punk-folk set upon his return to the the Tampa Bay area last Wednesday night, managing to inspire and captivate the Local 662 crowd despite his minimalist style.
The show kicked off with a set by Lonly Monster, a growly-howly singer-songwriter who warmed the crowd up for Billy + Joe, a duo led by charming and quirky songstress Billy Pettinger (a.k.a. Billy the Kid of Canada's "Billy and the Lost Boys"). Billy sang pleasing melodies and strummed acoustic guitar while Joe provided strong accompaniment on his guitar and vocal harmonies. Some songs featured her on piano, and they traded off lead vocal duties on a few songs, showing that overall, they have good instincts when it comes to crafting a set. I'd like to see Billy return to the Local 662 with her full band to play a headlining set so she can showcase her full range of talent in an unbuttoned setting.
The headliner of this particular evening was Tim Barry, previously best-known as the frontman of the Richmond, Va.-based punk band, Avail. After releasing six albums with Avail and touring DIY-style for more than 15 years, Tim has been entrenched in his solo career as a singer-songwriter since 2004. Now with five folkified albums to his name since he's gone solo, his devoted fans now hail him as an Americana troubadour, and he certainly has the grit and experience to back it up.
Barry hit the stage and began tuning his guitar while the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses" played over the P.A. Fans pressed in to the front as Barry stepped to the mic. The music began to fade in anticipation of his set, but instead of beginning, Barry announced, "Let the song finish… ya gotta show respect." As the song closed, Barry stepped off the front of the stage and positioned himself in the middle of the crowd to start his first song. After a few numbers, he returned to the stage and explained via inference, "The stage is a funny thing…"
Tim played three more songs and then stepped away from the microphone, leaned into the crowd, and spoke plainly: "Thank you so much for this… this is really a lovely moment." The rest of the night was a blur of anthemic sing-alongs by the packed house, another foray by Barry to the audience floor to belt out numbers like "Prosser's Gabriel" and the murder-ballad "Dog Bumped" while looking at the crowd eye-to-eye, and offering the occasional heartfelt expressions of his genuine appreciation for his fans.
I picked up his second album on vinyl while there, Rivanna Junction, and have been enjoying it since. Though most of the songs on his studio albums feature a backing band, his live single-man performances are what really make a Tim Barry show an experience. With words from the heart and delivery from the gut, his shows are inspirational, as evidenced by his ability to not only hold a crowd's attention for an hour or more with his mere presence and dynamism, but also to fill a house with dedicated fans that know every word of his music. Here's hoping that one day, he'll release a full-length live album that represents intimate performances like the one last Wednesday night.
I was at the show and loved it. Great insightful review
As usual, great review, very well written.
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