Midway through his first set tonight, Felix Rabin plays “Down Our Roads”. It had been the title track of his first EP. You can’t help but notice that it’s a very different version here than it had been five years ago or so.
That’s partly down to the cosy confines of the downstairs room in The Temperance, but there’s a little more to it. Felix Rabin is quite simply a better artist than he was back then, and he and his band are maturing right in front of your eyes.
And mention of eyes is deliberate, given that Rabin has his closed for most of the hour and a half he’s onstage. On my notes for the show I’d simply written “as if transfixed”, the man himself reckons there’s another reason: “I am not used to the audience being this close,” he smiles “I don’t mean to be rude.”
Back in 2020 the Frenchman released his brilliant “Pogboy” album, and much of the first set is made up of it. “Moving On” and the harmonious “Say (You Won’t Leave Me)” are superb, but it’s the last one in the first half, the wonderful “Death” that makes you realise you are dealing with a serious talent. The guitar solo he plays here – eyes closed, of course – is Pink Floyd-like, and if the thought that this is blues then its blues on a widescreen level is never far away, then the second half really brings it front and centre.
Only after “Voodoo Chile” has kicked it off, mind you. It takes a lot to give Hendrix a fresh twist, but in fairness to these four, they manage it.
As he explains, the fact they can’t play as loud as they’d like to means a change to the normal setlist and a song from the forthcoming EP “As She Comes”. It will, apparently, have a different hue when it appears in recorded form, here, though, its mid—paced, arena rock not too dissimilar to Stereophonics.
There’s a further dip back to the debut EP for a lively “Little Hurricane”, played here, by this band, it’s got an almost eerie feel to start, and it’s a treat to find that “Find Me” is going to be on the new EP. They’ve been playing it for years and it will be interesting to see what they do with it in the studio.
“Gone” ends things, and it does so in typically epic style. There’s elements of prog, jazz and everything in between here and second guitarist Francesco’s solo is wonderful. He, along with bassist Vincenzo and drummer James, are the perfect foils for Rabin, and they have to be good if they want to keep up. The eponymous star ends with a solo of his own and for one last time he’s lost in the moment, and as much as he’d said he’d been looking forward to going home (he’s going back tomorrow after “a few months” on the road) then the stages of the world, I’d argue (even if technically there isn’t one here tonight) are where he belongs.