“Sometimes I can’t work out why the audience is here. Why they stick around. It sometimes gets quite oppressive, like they are deliberately trying to wait me out, to see how far it goes,” So said Wreckless Eric prior to his short set at This Corner Of England on Sunday in darkest (the clouds were omnipresent, the rain hammered down) London Fields. The weather itself seemed like it wanted to take revenge on a recent hot spell. It was brooding and so was Eric. “I’m not sure how to do something in just 30 minutes. Usually you get to the hour mark and you can feel the audience go with you, they’ve stuck it out that long, they must be taking it in.”
Eric is a small man who muses on the death of Gregg Allman the night before. We talk about Allman’s talent as a songwriter and being married to Cher (briefly), a task that comes to us all in time. When he takes the stage with two guitars – one acoustic, one electric – he asks the sound engineer to add bottom to the electric to make it sound “like there’s a band here”, it seems only natural. But when the feedback forms the sound of a passing thunderstorm – and the rain continues to putter down the corrugated roof – it’s like a force of nature has been unleashed.
Under psychedelic lights the discarded electric forms a tinnitus-invading galumph of noise over which Eric intones songs from his most recent ‘AmERICa’ album on acoustic. He loves America, or loved it pre-Trump. Now it’s all spoilt. He breaks shakily into a line or two from an Allman song (“I can do that song standing on my head,” he later insists, “don’t know what happened today.”) before honing in on the ‘AmERICa’ closer ‘Have A Great Day’, a bittersweet piece of folkloric raconteuring amid a hail of background kerfuffle. And, it’s over, the crowd is stunned, their ears are ringing. Outside the rain is persistent.
Dave Henderson, London Fields, 2017, wearing a fetching green anorak