I’m stood in a venue in Derby that looks a little like it should be used for jumble sales or as a primary school hall waiting to see Richard Hawley. I have a degree of optimism about the support act, Pete Molinari, having briefly loitered on his Myspace page the day before. He sounds unashamedly retro with an interesting voice. I was not blown away and have made no special effort to be there in time for the support set, it just so happens that he is going to be on slightly later than I’d anticipated and so I am able to see his entire performance.
By the end of his first song, I was starting to think that catching the support act wasn’t a bad idea. By the end of his second, I was starting to feel glad that the merchandise stall appeared to have both of his albums for sale and by the time he got round to his sublime cover of ‘Satisfied Mind’ I was welling up. Richard Hawley was suitably splendid afterwards, but I went away from that gig talking about one man only. I’d ended up buying both of his albums on vinyl plus his recent single from the merchandise stall and, when I got the chance to play them the following evening, I began the fairly rapid process of falling in love with this unique voice.
Rather nasal, more than a little rough round the edges and utterly commanding, Molinari’s voice is sensational – once heard, never forgotten. ‘A Virtual Landslide’ is the more professional of his two albums, the first having been recorded at a kitchen table but still worth tracking down. ‘I Came Out Of The Wilderness’ has that early-Dylan feel to it, while ‘Sweet Louise’ is a cracking pop song dressed in clothes from Oxfam. In 1959. But where this album really got me, and still very much continues to do so, was his reading of ‘I Don’t Like The Man I Am’ which had impressed me that night in Derby but which is meticulously and beautifully rendered on this album. It’s a heartbreakingly stark and genuinely moving performance.
(You may remember me banging on about the recorded version of ‘Satisfied Mind’ earlier this year on the blog and, while it doesn’t quite match the heights of the live, solo performance I witnessed that night, it is a pretty special listen. It appeared on an EP that came out earlier this year, ‘Today, Tomorrow And Forever’, and can be heard here.)