Kurt Vile and The Violators: Live Review

Kurt Vile, man of few words and much hair, played the Astra Kulturhaus on Tuesday 4th June 2019.

Kurt Vile, the Pennsylvania native, with a stage presence so laid-back he almost disappears through the backdrop.

Kurt Vile, with seven solo albums to his name throughout nine years of recording, yet still retaining the onstage air of a teenage rocker.

This is Kurt Vile.

The chilled tunes battle with the sweltering heat tonight.

“You guys look hot,” Vile notes to the crowd.

“In more ways than one…”.

Kurt Vile, ably backed by The Violators (Jesse Trbovich, Rob Laasko and Kyle Spence), rolls through songs old and new with little pause for contemplation. His voice has an unmistakeable twang and regulated range, undoubtedly the most distinctive part of his lo-fi brand of blues rock.

Tracks from last year’s album, Bottle It In, make up the lion’s share of the set list. ‘Loading Bay’ and the quirky jangle of ‘Yeah Bones’ make an early appearance.

Kurt Vile, man of so many guitar changes that the roadies run out and start passing him banjos. Outside the very occasional ‘whoop’, shout or fist pump, there’s not much to gauge his emotions by. It’s hard to tell under the past-shoulder-length locks that hide most of his head, but he seems to be really enjoying this.

It’s clear that it takes a deal of concentration and precision to achieve his signature imprecise sound. The country feel of tracks like 2015’s ‘I’m An Outlaw’ and the piano-backed ‘Life Like This’ demonstrate this best.

Kurt Vile, who (I’ll say it again) seems and sounds so youthful, I’m not quite sure I believe his Wikipedia page that he turns 40 next year.

Kurt Vile, who delights in a nine-minute rendition of ‘Wakin On A Pretty Day’ and saves the unmissable ‘Pretty Pimpin’ ’til last.

‘He was always a thousand miles away, while standing right in front of your face,’ from the latter seems a fitting way to close an enigmatic evening.

 

by Luke Davis.

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