Even grey skies and relentless rain couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm for catching Rai Thistlethwayte at Lizotte’s on Friday night. Catching the Thirsty Merc frontman solo was always going to be a rare treat, especially at my favourite venue.
With my belly full of salt and pepper squid and succulent pork belly I was ready to listen to the sweet sounds of local talent Jacob Pearson. I’d heard a lot of buzz about this youngster, and was thrilled to experience him first hand. His voice sat somewhere between Jeff Buckley and Howie Day, although his tunes reminded me more of John Mayer in his early coffee house days. Just like Mayer he’s a dab hand at the guitar, and the ukulele as well. He told us the way Rai Thistlewayte’s music had influenced him early in his career, and it reminded me how young he was. He seems much more seasoned than his years would suggest. He’s cute too; with the right exposure he could definitely be the next big thing. It’s a shame too many people chatted through his set because it was something special.
That feeling of witnessing something rare and precious continued as Rai took to the stage. He seemed to revel in these intimate surroundings, which were perfect for road testing new material and treating us to some of his favourite Thirsty Merc cuts. While singles were represented, the setting also gave Rai the opportunity to play his some of those album tracks that didn’t hit the charts. Personally I preferred these; I still don’t think I’m over the mass saturation of airplay “20 Good Reasons” received. The superb new tunes definitely have me excited about the next album. In this intimate setting with the hushed crowd I could focus on every lyric and every note and really take them in. Rai chatted easily with us, telling us about his recent songwriting trips and the tours he’s been taking. Lizotte’s facilitates that kind of show experience, the breaking down of the barrier between artist and audience. He encouraged us to get to our feet for a stomping new number and to sing along loudly with “In the Summertime.”
On leaving it was back to reality. The summery Thirsty Merc tune almost made me forget that The Coast is dark and gloomy at the moment. A good gig does that though. It takes you away from the real world and just lets you live with the music for a while. I think it’ll be hard to go back to those sweaty Thirsty Merc pub gigs after this one. The delicious food, comfy seats, and excellent music left me feeling positively pampered. What a way to ring in the weekend!
Image source: own photos