Micah P Hinson
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Good ol’ timing. You can always rely on timing. The last time he played on this side of the Atlantic, Micah P Hinson gave an interview to The Quietus in which he reeled off some state-of-the-union style ponderings over the tarnished state of what he thought should be a beautiful American Dream, (‘America is… a place that you can go and you can make some amazing things happen, or you can make some terrible shit go down. And I find a massive beauty in that’), the insidious threat of socialism (‘that’s not what America is), the fundamental failings of Barack Obama (‘I don’t think he particularly knows what he’s doing’), and why McCain would’ve almost certainly made a better president (‘At least… he knew what it was like to live and die for his country). This led to a thread on the music board of this site in which there was a palpable pause as people, myself included, tried to align these somewhat scattered political views with the eloquent raconteur that had previously charmed them so. Whilst this particular incident generated a number of questions rich for debate relating to the union of politics and music, I personally felt that, more than anything else, it tapped into something deeper regarding the creative act that I have never been able to get set in my head. Namely, Is it possible to separate the artist from their art? It’s a question too deep and grand and nuanced for brief speculation in a tawdry gig review, but we can still position Hinson and the debate arising from his comments in the purview of that thought.
But, to timing. Micah P Hinson is back playing London in the week that Obama gets his Midterm ‘humbling’ and the Republicans win control of the House of Representatives with their biggest majority in that half of Congress since the Forties. If you held the belief that Obama was overwhelmingly the wrong man for the job and completely out of touch with the average American voter and their American dreams, then this protest vote would surely be the vindication that you had been waiting for…a call to arms against the pioneer saboteurs. And Mr Hinson has the floor…
You’d think that the introduction of a string quartet would be a sign of indulgence, but, if anything, the accompaniment at Queen Elizabeth Hall comes on a night when brevity and restraint reign. At his previous London show, Hinson told as many, if not more, stories and anecdotes as he did play songs. Tonight, there aren’t really any stories, no rambling tales. Only a few brief thoughts, asides and the odd cracking of wise. Mostly just songs. Absent America. The one extended monologue comes at the very end of the night as Hinson prepares to play ‘This Old Guitar’. He places that song in the context of the relationship with his father before finally deciding that, 'music goes further than anything I could even imagine'. And when Hinson plays ‘Dyin’ Alone’ simultaneously buoyed and shattered by the most exquisite string backing, I couldn’t even begin to imagine anything beyond the heartbreaking beauty of those five minutes. And maybe there’s a point in all of that.
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