Live review from Underground Rustic:
1. I Tried & I Failed
2. Save The Whales
3. Only for Family
5. When She Comes
6. Spill Your Guts
8. Couch Surfing
9. Sting Like A Bee
10. Coffee Stains
11. Heart Of Gold
12. Shot Gun
13. Conversation Stalls
14. Last Time I Saw You
Rustic #1當晚最後一位歌手Ziad Samman在表演前被標榜為outlaw country鄉村音樂，筆者不同意。不論形象有多反叛，鄉村音樂家在chord結構上都比較傳統、保守。然而Ziad Samman的音樂較簡化、傾覆，結他的每個音都會有些微不穩定不和諧的感覺，反而更像早期龐克，只不過他是單人彈唱，沒有其他成員而已。這位歌手一時讓人聯想起The Clash的Joe Strummer，聲線勇猛、沙啞，但一時亦會像Sex Pistols解散後的Sid Vicious，咬字不清晰，聲線突然會破裂。就這樣，他奔波唱了足足十四首變化不大的短歌曲，讓觀眾回到了虛無主義的七十年代。
– Elson Tong
In a night of mixed acoustic sounds, it was fitting that the tattooed “outlaw” punk Ziad Samman closed the show. Achieving a lot with just his guitar, voice, and desperado charm, the rocker played a raucous set full of whisky-soaked wit and rambling narratives. Opener I Tried & I Failed introduced the boyish troubadour’s gritty vocals and harsh delivery to those who hadn’t previously seen him perform with Tango and Snatch or The Side Burns.
Samman channelled a stripped-back punk sound, creating an acoustic take on the Celtic rock revelry of bands like Dropkick Murphys or Flogging Molly. With an occasionally slipshod style, it seemed like Samman was playing a caricature at times, blurring the lines between sincerity and mockery. In trying to make his voice sound as characterfully grizzly and intoxicated as possible, his vocal power and consistency suffered, which distracted from the overall strength of his performance.
Only For Family had a more country, southern gothic feel with ominous and theatrical chords, perfect for the crowning act of a night dedicated to “Rustic” music. On When She Comes, the guitar plucking took on an almost banjo-like quality, before Samman slipped into a melancholic key for Spill Your Guts. As the performance unfurled, Samman’s guitar playing became more interesting and complex. He exuded a natural and casual stage presence and charisma befitting the laidback rock ‘n’ roll bar venue.
For better or worse, Ursula “The Sea Witch” was the most memorable song of the set – inspired by a boss who is “really nasty” and “a cruel, hard and calculated bitch.” Samman rallied the crowd to join in belting out the chorus, which gave him a visibly manic glee. Sting Like A Bee recalled Florence and the Machine’s Kiss With A Fist in its blow-by-blow retaliatory fight lyrics, while Samman’s voice dipped low for comic effect.
But from Coffee Stains, the songs began to blur into each another. Samman’s tried-and-tested formula of barked lyrics and low key guitar rhythms began to wear thin, and some variation would have been welcome at this stage. Channelling The Offspring’s Dexter Holland in his delivery, Samman rumbled through lyrics about a “good-time girl”, giving a post-hardcore confessional angle to the song. The heavier Shot Gun had some strong hooks: from its rapid strumming to a big, singalong “woah woah woahhh” chorus.
There was a definite scent of The White Stripes’ Effect and Cause in Samman’s approach to songwriting – revealing, confessional narratives hidden beneath tongue-in-cheek lyrics. Heart of Gold played like the final drunken ditty at the end of a long night’s drinking, evoking the inebriated raconteurial flow of The Pogues’ Shane MacGowan. In the same fried, rumbling tone, Samman growled his way through stark and heart-worn, yet defiant and passionate lines.
By Conversation Stalls, the songs were virtually indistinguishable. It was 11.30pm, the crowd was dwindling, and Samman was ready for his final song. Last Time I Saw You had a softer bite than the preceding tracks, with an almost Jack Johnson-meets-Plain White T’s warmth and wistfulness to the simple, sunny chords to signing off the night on a contemplative note. Samman’s set may have felt long and verging on repetitive at times, but there’s no doubt that the multi-talented live regular brought a show that had personality, spark and mischief in spades.
– El Jay