Lucky Townby Sarah Claire Picton / 27.08.2010
Up until now, my experience of the intimate downstairs area of Mercury has been dedicated to getting loose to the thrashes of d’n’b… getting sweaty to beats that assault the crowd with dirty audio pleasure. This all changed the night of the 18th. That cold Wednesday night, I experienced what I can only describe as feelings of nostalgia – nostalgia for a time that I was not even a part of, and for memories that didn’t belong to me. Amongst a small gathering, Amsterdam’s underground folk singer-songwriter Lucky Fonz III would be performing, and despite my ignorance to the melodic realm of folk music, I felt a distinct familiarity to the music and to the crowd.
Standing alone at the bar, I absorbed myself into this familiar yet foreign ambience. I noticed Syd Kitchen’s off-white knitted beanie, and knew it held a story of its own. I then wondered about stories in general… and that everyone has a tale to tell. It was comforting knowing that no one around me knew mine, and I was simply another voyeur, waiting to be whisked away by someone else’s words. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I felt that this is what connects us to the iconic folk renegades of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. Armed with just a guitar, harmonica and their voice, these individuals had something to say, a story to share. So, this is mine. And, like Lucky’s lyrics, it might not make sense to you – but, whatever, not every story does?
Despite being equipped (poorly) with a flyer and a pen I hustled from the barman, the magnetic presence Lucky created on stage left me engaged and indifferent to the specific details, such as the order of tracks and their names. For the purpose of this review those details would’ve been nice but they’re not important. It’s all about that fleeting moment, where you no longer notice the going-ons around you… unaware of the passing time and your worldly insecurities. Suspension.
Fonz talks of past acid trips induced by the colours of a large, spinning disco ball and the “soul underneath his arm”, the crowd welcomes it with smiles and laughs. He sings to us like we’re his friends sitting in his lounge, drinking red wine and indulging nonsense. It’s like he knows us, and we know him. And, maybe we do. Not him, but the feelings he sings about.
He tells us we’re an attentive crowd and the guy next to me laughs. Lucky responds: “Are you surprised that I know the word attentive, or surprised that you’ve been called attentive?” The guy had no answer to this and I’m left to imagine that his laugh was the type that erupts without warning… spontaneous and unexpected. It just happens. Like life.
Lucky Fonz III sings about life – about first loves and about “a lady dressed in black blue.” And of finding a type of light that would turn him into black and white, or sepia. Lyrical clarity was left to the outside realities that night. It was all a bit bizarre, as if what we were listening to snippets of his past, randomly stitched together and candidly delivered with passion and a smiling face.
As I left to get my R15 boerewors roll, I realized at the end of it all, we’re just a bunch of City Ramblers, happy to be lost for an hour or so in Lucky’s strange and wonderful musical stories.