Simone Felice's bio is quite the read. Here are some snippets. At the age of 12 he suffered a brain aneurysm and was pronounced clinically dead for several minutes. Recovering from emergency brain surgery in a local hospital, he spent several months in intensive care, relearning basic motor skills, including reading and writing... In the winter of 2009 personal tragedy reared its head when Simone and his long-time love lost their first child in a still-birth... On 2 June 2010, after a series of fainting spells, Simone underwent emergency open-heart surgery at Albany Medical Center when doctors discovered that a childhood congenital disorder had left the 33-year-old with an irreversible calcification of the aortic valve, leaving only 8% blood-flow to the body and brain... The following month Pearl Simone Felice was born, a healthy blue-eyed girl who came in a summer thunderstorm.
Add to that the fact that Simone is a musician famed for The Duke and The King and The Felice Brothers, and that he is an acclaimed author, and you certainly have a life lived. The last time he was supposed to be in Australia, he was in an operating theatre having his heart fixed. This performance at Sydney's Vanguard was actually third time lucky, as he was forced to cancel another trip as well. So it was a joy to see the man finally step upon a stage in this fair city.
My perennial grumble about the irritating clattering of plates that soundtracks any Vanguard gig aside (I'm not sure dinner and intimate live music belong in the same room), this was a magical night, as the singer performed with just an acoustic guitar for company, and ran through some solo stuff, some Duke and the King stuff and even the odd cover. His voice was beautiful, ethereal, transfixing. Between songs, he was funny and gracious and when he bowed at the end of the gig he did so with the awkward charm of a five-year-old having performed in the school nativity play. He was a genuinely humble character who managed to create the most intimate of atmospheres, even amid the chinking of crockery.
Anyway, why read my words about how good he was when you can see for yourself? Check out a clip of Felice performing Don't Wake The Scarecrow at The Vanguard below:
Review by Bobby Townsend.