Review: Ray Lamontagne@Corn Exchange, February 4

THERE is so much about Ray Lamontagne that I should like - from his husky voice to checked shirt. His brown boots, his denim jeans, his clicking acoustic guitar, heavy eyes and poetic dreamy songs. Folky, earthy and aloof – it s like I ve been able to con

THERE is so much about Ray Lamontagne that I should like - from his husky voice to checked shirt.

His brown boots, his denim jeans, his clicking acoustic guitar, heavy eyes and poetic dreamy songs. Folky, earthy and aloof - it's like I've been able to conjure my perfect singer in some kind of folky version of the film Weird Science.

Dip into any track and it's beguiling hypnotic stuff. A perfectly deft drum sound tips and taps its way through songs, pedal steel guitar embellishes soulfully - it's constantly impressive and skilful - the sound is exquisite.

However, Lamontagne takes a long time to endear himself to the crowd. Occasional mumbled thanks are sent in the general direction of the microphone, but it seemed that he was going out of his way not to speak to us.


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If he was simply trying to get in his zone somehow, that's fair enough - but quite a bit of the crowd were getting in a certain zone of their own. In the awkward silence between one song, an audience member clapped their hands - causing Ray to address the crowd properly for the first time. "I'm trying to decide if you're being smart - or if you're just over-excited. The response would be different you see."

Trust me, the chance of it being the latter was highly unlikely. When he finally did loosen up, he was warm and amusing - in the encore. Ray's songs rarely distinguished themselves and for all their soul, lacked the spark of personality he seemed to withhold.

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CHRIS BOLAND

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