David Ford @ World Café Live, Philadelphia

david fordBritish indie sensation David Ford graced Philadelphia’s World Café Live last night with an astounding headlining set for a rapt audience. His recent live performances in the Philly, opening gigs for Augustana and Sara Bareilles, were outstanding in every way imaginable, so I was more than excited to see a show with only Ford on the bill. Despite its late start (10:30pm) on a Thursday night, Ford filled the upstairs performance space of World Café Live and delivered a one of a kind performance.

The most incredible aspect of Ford’s live performance is his technically perfect ability to play every single instrument on stage simultaneously via looping. The set’s opener “Go To Hell,” first single from the latest record Songs for the Road, displayed Ford’s talent and ability to be a one man band in spite of the number of instruments surrounding him on the stage. (Check out the video for “Go To Hell” to see for yourself.)

As a bit of an ego boost for Philadelphia, Ford lamented that it’s his favorite city and that World Café Live is his favorite building in it. The set was chock full of bumbling British stage banter that was nothing short of endearing, especially as Ford insisted that Philadelphia really is his favorite place and it’s not something he says all the time. “Insincerity doesn’t wash well with me,” he insisted, and it wasn’t hard to believe.

david fordThe emotion and intensity with which Ford sings and pounds away on his guitar and, at times, piano is truly moving. It’s impossible to not feel his anguish as his vocals grow fierce and guitar riffs become louder, tortured and wrestled out of the used, 50 year old acoustic Ford plays with. As the force of “Requiem” picked up, my plus one for the evening leaned over and whispered, “he’s even better live!” The volume and stress of Ford’s vocals on “Requiem” distorted the song’s sound, achieving a desired violent and maddening effect to fit in with the song’s devastating lyrics.

On the emotionally daunting “St. Peter,” Ford informed the audience that he’d placed a “thinly veiled insult to your current President” in the song and encouraged the audience to cheer when they picked up on it so that he’d know his song writing wasn’t too subtle. “St. Peter,” Ford went on to explain, was written following a conversation he had with a Baptist in Kentucky who told Ford he wouldn’t get into Heaven. After singing the line against President Bush, (“there is nothing so deadly as the forces of right / Or some fool with a shotgun in a house painted white.”) he paused to announce, “fight the power!” while raising his right fist in the air.

Another, far more politically charged song, followed later in the set. Before he launched into the powerful “State of the Union,” Ford promised the audience, “I’m very pro-American,” even if he’s disillusioned with the country’s current Administration, which inspired the song. “State of the Union” again saw Ford become a maniac on stage, moving from instrument to instrument creating loop after loop so that you’d swear there were at least seven people on stage instead of a lonesome Ford. His political leanings shine through as he pounds away on both his guitar and piano to create a glorious barrage of noise at the song’s dynamic end.

Ford ended the lively set with “Song for the Road” and received a standing ovation as he walked of the stage. No more than a second passed before he literally ran back on stage for a blatantly desired encore. The night officially ended with more of Ford’s signature looping on “Cheer Up (You Miserable Fuck).” Again, Ford encouraged crowd participation, this time singing the “las” that accompanied the song’s chorus. The audience humored him by singing along, but Ford stopped after the first, weak chorus stating, “how very polite. It’s like a room full of angels. I want a room full of satanic demons this time!”

What David Ford wants, David Ford gets. The audience’s next effort at the chorus roared ferociously, filling the upstairs of World Café Live with welcomed cacophony. Shortly thereafter, the lights came up and the radio filled the momentary silence as the encore drew to a close. In spite of the show’s official end, Ford stuck around with stragglers from the audience and conducted a one song sing along with his fans, hanging around to chat afterwards.

david fordmore @ flickr

Ford is set to head back to the UK following the next couple of gigs he’s got lined up here in the States (dates below). If you’re within a day’s travel time to either Baltimore or Los Angeles, I strongly urge you to catch David Ford’s live set before he heads back across the pond. You’ll have more than gotten your time and money’s worth.


Set List:
01. Go To Hell
02. I Don’t Care What You Call Me
03. Don’t Tell Me
04. Requiem
05. To Hell with the World
06. St. Peter
07. Katie
08. I’m Alright Now
09. State of the Union
10. Song for the Road

Encore:
01. …And So You Fell
02. Cheer Up (You Miserable Fuck)

Tour Dates:
Jul 03 – West Mount Vernon Park / Baltimore, Md.
Jul 10 – Hotel Café / Los Angeles, Ca.

David Ford: website | myspace | live review | interview with

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3 Responses

  1. David Ford is one of the most talented singer/songwriters out there right now. Motorola is actually giving away the “To Hell with the World” ringtone for free in The Hotel Cafe section on the Motorola site. Enjoy!

  2. […] Done.” Their acoustic set and Rosenberg’s strong vocals reminded me of fellow Brit David Ford, only a three piece and no looping. While it’s Ford’s looping that makes his music […]

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