After the success of Parachute for Gordo’s EP launch at the West End Centre on Friday 28 March, the next night saw a marked difference in volume as former And So I Watch You From Afar man Tony Wright brought his VerseChorusVerse project to the hallowed venue. Armed with just an acoustic guitar and a harmonica, Tony walked on stage with a smile so huge, you couldn’t help but take to him. The first gig on his European tour, this was a man happy to have the chance to play his songs in the live setting.
Very much a classic style of songwriting, Tony has a surprisingly sweet voice and balances this perfectly with the country sound that comes from his guitar. Having said this, there is still a fire in his belly as he rallies against corporate entities and some of the more negative elements of popular culture, no more so than when vigorously discussing the absurdity of Brad Pitt starring in a perfume advert during one track. You can hear the heartfelt influence of Dylan, Bright Eyes and Tom Petty in the songs, especially ‘One Fine Day’, but there’s also a delicacy in the way they’re delivered – not a single note is wasted. Although there’s a healthy respect for the folk legends, Tony proves he’s not lost his love for all things rock with a stripped-down take on Fugazi’s ‘Margin Walker’. There’s also a stunning rendition of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s ‘Sixteen Tons’, a song Tony claims to have the best lyrics of all time – and when it was delivered with such fervour, it’s hard to disagree.
Full of chat, Tony constantly checked if the audience were OK and even joked if anyone had come to see reworked acoustic versions of And So I Watch You From Afar songs, as had happened at one of his previous shows in England. He also mentioned the reason he couldn’t use his given name on stage (‘not because my parents were horrible people’) and just how many other people named Tony Wright there are – a politician, Terrorvision’s singer and the world record holder for insomnia being among the most impressive.
He may have a common name, but this Tony Wright is one of a kind.