Going to one of these intimate nights can always be something of a mixed bag. Give a performer an arena and all eyes are on them from start to finish, give them a theatre can project to the gods, but when it is a smaller venue the challenge is really on the artist to keep the crowd entertained. In that respect we have to be thankful for John Partridge, who managed to shine during his set at London’s own Borderline.
Partridge makes it clear from the offset that he is a natural born performer and showman, giving off an aura of cheeky confidence and the smallest hint of swagger when he took the the main stage. He has an undeniable sense of presence which meant that all eyes were on him from the moment he went on and his only added to the power of his vocals.
Musically Partridge hit all the right notes (pun very much intended) doing excellent covers to some of his personal favourite tracks. Covers have a tendency of backfiring horribly, but it is clear from the treatment that the singer wanted to do them justice while still putting in his own particular spin on the performance. This became apparent with his renditions of ‘Jolene’ and ‘Bite the Hand that Feeds’, which both came off very well when performed in Partridge’s heavy rock quality vocals. If we had to be picky we could say that he put all his best songs near the end of his set which left the beginning feeling a little week. But I did love how it built to a crescendo leaving the audience ending on a high. In particular I also have to give kudos to his backing band and vocalists who really did sell themselves well and supported Partridge beautifully.
The venue itself is one of those blink and you miss it places that you only seem to find in London. Hidden amongst the the other bars and set back The Borderline gives off the aura of somewhere secret and evocative. Slowly descending the staircase into the main performance area added to this effect taking guests past the stage and really letting guests take in the whole atmosphere from the beginning.
That said the venue is a bit mired by being underground and the air conditioning was not quite strong enough to keep people cool when the crowd started to build. The bar was also left open which, while good for drinks needs, meant people were dashing back and forth to get another drink throughout the set. This meant there was a lot of pushing and shoving going around which somewhat detracted from Partridge’s music. There was also a large central pillar which blocked half the stage if you found yourself in the wrong part of the venue. Again these are pretty minor annoyances but it didn’t do the venue any favours.
As I said at the beginning, a small intimate setting for a performance like this can go wrong if not handled correctly. Partridge was able to command the stage and genuinely impress with his music and his amazing band. The venue lets him down here from some minor issues but ultimately it shows off The singers amazing vocals and really does show off he best attributes of his album, Dames Dudes and Cowboys Too. If you get a chance to see him perform live then don’t hesitate, but maybe think twice if the venue doesn’t quite match his performance.
Come back to us this weekend when we review John Partridge’s album, Dames Dudes and Cowboys Too, and don’t forget to read our very special interview with him.