Richmond Fontaine – Railway Inn, Winchester

First night of the UK tour, and where are Richmond Fontaine? Twenty minutes to door opening and Dan Eccles is on all fours screwing valves into his amp while Willy Vlautin is languidly stringing his guitar. It has somehow taken them six and a half hours to do the one-hour journey from London but they are charmingly laid back and blissfully unaware of their media profile and the fact that there is a capacity crowd outside baying to get in. “Gig of the Week in the Independent? Gee, man, that’s awesome!”
And awesome is the performance; it takes more than a minor detour to faze this decade-old Portland, Oregon quartet, which is just beginning to grab the UK public’s attention. Vlautin is in his element, telling tales both in song and word, and exchanging good-natured banter with the audience. Dan is headbanging like a true punk rocker but the tracks from “Winnemucca” and, more particularly, the hugely admired “Post To Wire” are performed with the intensity they deserve. Opener “The Longer You Wait” recalls the best of American Music Club”, while “Allison Johnson” wouled’t be out of place in a Nick Cave set. The sequencing is a tad bitty, but that’s half the fun, as they take the opportunity in this tiny venue to bed in a programme which will later in the tour slay audiences in much bigger halls. The audience, feeling truly privileged, stayed behind en masse way after closing time.

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