The Gov, Tuesday 8th October 2019
(Reviewed by John Glennie)
He is not exactly a household name in Australia, but after watching a few YouTube videos I was quite keen to see more of him. His first foray to Australia saw him perform at WOMADelaide in 2014. He plays quite an inspired mix of country, blues, swing and folk and has a unique voice.
His solo performance at The Gov was cabaret style with tables and chairs set up on the dance floor in a vary laid-back atmosphere. The majority of his songs are quite short, so we were treated to close-on 30 of his best hand-clapping, foot-tapping tracks from his seven albums (including his soon-to-be-released one!).
He kicked off with Ain’t No Grave, Better Man and End of My Rope in quick succession with a little banter after the first song where he informed us that he wasn’t used to the cabaret setup so to make some noise so he wouldn’t get bored and forget what he was doing!
Pokey certainly provided us with the promised “inspired mix” switching between genres with ease. A couple of slow waltz-style tracks with Your Every Word and Heaven were followed by one of my highlights for the night – The Devil Ain’t Lazy from his self-titled 4th album. Though Pokey was born in 1983 his music goes back to an era decades before he was born – vintage country in the manner of the great Jimmie Rodgers, classic acoustic blues and jazz, Western swing, and the songs of the ragtime era.
He certainly played his best for the captive Gov audience including greats like When The Sun Goes Down, I Hear Ya Knocking, Barcelona, Central Time (awesome, catchy song!) and Cairo, Illinois – finishing off the main set with La La Blues off the Riverboat Blues album. After a very brief exit (probably only 30 seconds!) he returned for the encore and ended a great show with Arkansas and Josephine.
I hope he comes back with his band The South City Three, and treats Adelaide to the full sound for which he is renowned.
Pokey’s support artist on his Australian shows is Sierra Ferrell. A jingle-janglin gypsy tornado of sound that doesn’t seem to care what the rules are, Sierra seamlessly fuses old and new into something distinctly her own which comprised country blues, rag time and honky-tonk. Unfortunately, I missed the first half of her set but thoroughly enjoyed the part I did see. A couple of excellent songs were Song Of The Sea and Before I Met You. Sierra was the perfect warm-up for Pokey!