The Lexington – June 13th

I have no hangover to blame for being grumpy with Cass McCombs; I didn’t spend the day partying at the sodden Field Day festival where he played the day before and his new album – Mangy Love, out in August – is pretty damn good, but his show at The Lexington is a disappointment. Plain and simple.

While certainly a talented songwriter, Cass McCombs is not a gifted singer and the limitations of his voice are on display at The Lexington as he struggles to hit notes, stuck in his limited range. And, despite being blessed with a rock-solid drummer and bass player, his guitar playing veers from sloppy to uninterested.

So what gives? Maybe I’m just being picky, because the normally majestic indie rock veteran has had an impressive run of previous albums including two early stunners in A and PREfection and a forthcoming record that features one of his finest songs, ‘Bum Bum Bum’, which features in his set providing one of the few highlights.

In fact, most of the show’s best moments are drawn from his new, countrified album, including a strong version of ‘Run Sister Run’, the slacker glory of ‘Opposite House’ and a dark take on his ‘Low Flyin’ Bird’. But while McCombs can make the intimacy of a bedroom studio work for his albums and introspective crooning, the harsh glare of The Lexington stage lights just makes him seem uncomfortable. Ultimately this North London stage proves unlucky and unsympathetic for the California-born journeyman, and that’s not a pleasant place for anyone to be on a cold summer’s night.

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