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Nile is a Source of Mystery

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Willie Nile: St Bonaventure's

WILLIE Nile certainly looked like a rock star.

Dressed completely in black he could have been a diminutive Lou Reed with a mass of Bob Dylan-like hair but with moves that were more reminiscent of Joe Strummer.

And aided by a three-piece band including sometime co-writer Frankie Lee on drums, his anthemic and extremely melodic power pop songs really rocked with pounding rhythms, lots of solos and masses of energy.

This was the New Yorker's first visit to Bristol so it was not surprising that the set list included a large number of his older songs including House Of A Thousand Guitars, Give Me Tomorrow, a great version of Heaven Help The Lonely and The Rites Of Spring.

The gritty Hard Times In America, re-jigged to become Hard Times In The UK, really stormed along while his classic Cell Phone Ringing, written after the Madrid bombing, demonstrated just why he is considered such a very fine and very clever lyricist.

But the superb Streets Of New York, a none too rose-tinted view of his home city featuring Nile on keyboards was one of the real standouts of the gig.

Of course the night was dominated by songs from the latest release The Innocent Ones which has already been hailed by some sections of the music press as being one of the great rock albums of the year, including the title track and One Guitar, which is a classic in the making that had the audience singing along with enthusiasm.

He closed with a very punky version of Jim Carroll's People Who've Died.

No one could deny that Nile and the band deserved their standing ovation and they returned to do the quietly beautiful On The Road To Calvary which he wrote for the late Jeff Buckley before completely switching the mood for a version of The Ramones' I Want To Be Sedated.

Willie Nile's fans include Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Pete Townshend, Lou Reed and Richard Thompson and it was easy to see why.

But quite why Willie Nile isn't playing in huge stadiums rather than at intimate gigs like this is a much bigger mystery.

 


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