Micah P HinsonThis 5 November, SevenStreets chose to eschew the usual Bonfire night activity of hanging around in the park freezing our proverbials off.

Instead we headed down to The Static Gallery to catch American songwriter Micah P. Hinson, for the latest in a series of impressive names to play the venue.

Hinson cuts a lonely figure on stage, armed only with an acoustic guitar (bearing the cryptic legend ‘His Marching Kills Fascists’) and a carton of apple juice.

With head down, shambling around the stage, and full of contrived physical idiosyncrasy, it’s not an encouraging start and we begin to wonder whether or not the fireworks weren’t the better option after all.

A few songs in however, he warms to his task, relaxing enough to share some banter with a warmly appreciative, and clearly reverent crowd.

And by the time he gets to a reworked old favourite, ‘Beneath the Rose’, he has the audience eating out of his hands, someone behind me shouting at its conclusion: “It doesn’t get any better than that, does it”.

You sense this feeling pervades the room, especially once Hinson’s voice begins to accompany his guitar-playing like an extra instrument, belying his stature and imbuing the performance with an uncanny sense of depth and meaning.

It strikes us also, that Hinson is not unlike his alt.country contemporary, M. Ward, vividly conjuring images of everyday life and loss, granting the listener a peek into this world of American Gothic.

The songs (the majority of which taken from new record, Micah P. Hinson and the Pioneer Saboteurs) are vignettes; telling of disappointment, regret, and the tawdry, as in ‘Take off that dress’ (oddly described as romantic by Cerys Matthews on Radio 6 Music a couple of days later).

All in all, this is an accomplished performance by an artist approaching the height of his powers, and come the encore (the latest, ‘God is Good’), SevenStreets is happy to report a sense of relief we didn’t join our perishing mates down the bommie.

Mike Pinnington