Scott Kelly’s experiments with acoustic might see him take a different sonic route from his work as the lynchpin of Neurosis, but it very much sees him exploring the same avenues of dark misery as his day job. Hugh Platt crept up to Camden for an altogether different kind of gloom.
Six things we learned when Scott Kelly played the Black Heart:
1) Whenever Neurosis are in town, Scott Kelly tries to find time to play a few acoustic numbers for that raggedy bunch of hardcore Neurot fans that you would put money on finding drinking whiskey and scowling at any and all hours of the day. And we mean that in a good way. That’s just the kind of behaviour that Scott Kelly’s solo acoustic stuff was made for.
2) Tonight’s sole support comes courtesy of The Death Letter, whose two-man gloom-blues has a stripped-down Ancient VVisdom feel to it, were you to carve out the Texan mysti-mumbo-jumbo from Nathan Opposition and co., and replaced it with something harder, colder, and less noticeably OTT.
3) The pair sometimes seem a little shaky with some of their less well-judged, faster numbers, but nail the sense of a truly miserable winter when they stick to their more polished, slower work. That their cover of ‘Dirt In The Ground’ by Tom Waits actually turns out near hypnotically good rather than an embarrassing slosh of idol-worship is a testament to how good The Death Letter can be.
4) In the confined space of the upstairs room of the Black Heart, Scott Kelly is without the protective distance of a big stage, the long arm of front-of-stage security, or the “comforting” (hah!) gang of the rest of Neurosis. With much of tonight’s set taken from The Forgiven Ghost In Me and The Wake, there’s little cheer in tonight’s set, but a whole lot of shadowy, introspective whispering. This is music for those aforementioned whiskey-drinkers to sup their measures in quiet contemplation to.
Watch the video to ‘The Sun Is Dreaming In The Soul’ by Scott Kelly:
5) Despite the tone and timbre of his solo work, Kelly himself is in good spirits tonight, regaling the audience with the story of how at his last solo London show, where a punter was thrown out after bouncers caught him pissing in the corner of the room, and jokingly thanking those in attendance for not going to Mark Lanegan’s show up the road at the Kentish Town Forum.
6) With his now perennial solo-acoustic closer, a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s ‘Tecumseh Valley’, Kelly sounds as desperate and maudlin as we’ve ever heard him, and we mean that in the best way possible. There’s good reason why fans of the world’s leading post-metal band just as readily lap up said band’s leader when he’s alone with just an acoustic guitar.