If the sign of a great band is that its whole is greater than the sum of its sonic parts, then how the hell Alejandro Rose-Garcia managed to raise such a ruckus at Gorilla recently is beyond me.

Review by Matt Eastham

Going by the joke Indian Guide name of Shakey Graves, this one man folk/blues/Americana juggernaut is something of a cult hero in his native Texas where the mayor of his home town Austin once declared an official ‘Shakey Graves Day’ in his honour.

Still little known on these shores, it’s a testament to the power of the internet then, that this gig had to be moved from its original billing at the Deaf Institute to the slightly larger Whitworth St. venue due to unexpected demand.

We certainly weren’t disappointed. Despite touring without a band Rose-Garcia’s emotional, pumped-up style is the stuff of which great shows are made; by alternating between acoustic guitar and distortion heavy electric plus judicious use of a suitcase kick drum, the audience was treated to a raucous romp through the Shakey Graves back catalogue.

Songs from 2011’s largely unaccompanied LP Roll the Bones featured prominently with the title track in particular impressing amidst a wail of feedback;¬† and a rendition of Georgia Moon – complete with Graves’ interspersed narrative on the travails of buying cheap supermarket moonshine¬†¬† – which following such a high energy performance provided a sweetly low key encore.

The evening’s loudest cheer however was reserved for Late July, a song achieving nigh on cult status thanks to Be Lie All’s (proud showcasers of Austin, TX musical talent) magnificent online video in which Graves explains the origin of his stage name before belting out a version of the song, fag end smouldering in the strings of his guitar headstock.

It was a great moment. Sometimes you just have to acknowledge that you are witnessing something special. The songs, the musicianship, the voice, the performance: the man is the full package, and the large and diverse crowd at Gorilla were vociferous in their appreciation of this spectacular talent.

Rose-Garcia appeared almost bemused at times, explaining this was his first show in the UK and pondering over how anyone even knew who he was. With a forward programme of European dates to come, undoubtedly this won’t be the last time the reach of his appeal is demonstrated.