Marking his 8th annual New Year’s Day appearance, singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur brought an eclectic show to City Winery this week. Utilizing drum pads, looping machines, and a duo of microphones, Arthur’s innovative set made masterful use of the instruments at his disposal. Opening the festivities was Juliana Hatfield, who’s unique storytelling held the crowd’s attention for a solid hour.
Aside from his early 2000s hits “Devil’s Broom” and “In the Sun,” Monday’s show offered the crowd a heavy glimpse into Arthur’s new material, which made up the vast majority of his set. “I decided to play all my best songs, which are all my new songs,” Arthur joked before his second track of the evening, a new one titled “Nefarious.”
Arthur urged the audience to dance along “like skeletons,” laughed it off as he broke a string on his guitar, and dug up his 2012 New Year’s resolutions to share with the audience. He seamlessly shifted between mellower acoustic ballads, stomping folk rock, and an array of other sounds along the spectrum, even beginning an abstract painting at one point as he sang. In addition to being an accomplished musician, Joseph Arthur is also an extremely skilled painter, and had several pieces of his on display behind him while he played throughout the night.
Each song in Arthur’s setlist was an impressively crafted adventure from start to finish, intricately layering loops, rhythms and melodies on top of one another. His breezy, imaginative take on Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” which appeared on his 2014 tribute album The Songs of Lou Reed, was a highlight from the main set and had the crowd dancing along by the stage. His rendition of “Heroin” by The Velvet Underground was just as impressive, building in intensity and erupting into an explosive and emotional finish.
The evening felt less like a “performance” and more of an invitation along Arthur’s artistic journey – a full on experience of music, reflection, poetry, and visual art, infused with a few doses of self-deprecating humor along the way. Defying all expectations, Joseph Arthur’s City Winery show served as a true representation of his talents across multiple audio and visual platforms.
Photos: Shayne Hanley
Article: Nicole Shyti