Petunia & Nathan Godfrey

Inside of You, the title track of Petunia's new album, is quite simply one of the greatest songs I have ever heard. I have now been fortunate enough to have seen it performed three times and each time I have been left completely in awe – of the song, the voice, the strange melody, the 'call to arms' spoken middle, and of the sheer beauty of what is possible with an acoustic guitar and a human voice.

The first time I heard the track it was the single highlight of an otherwise disappointing show. The second time it was the surprising stand-out song of a truly great show. And the third time – on Saturday 29 November at the Duncairn Centre for Culture and Arts – it was as mesmerising as I had hoped it would be.

This is also my third time reviewing a Petunia show, and I am struggling to think of something new to say that doesn't involve endlessly swooning all over his incredible voice.

First the technical differences.

Previously Petunia has been joined by his band, the Vipers, but on Saturday it was just him and one Nathan M Godfrey, playing accompaniment on resonator guitar and mandolin. Previously he had availed of a full PA, this time, it was acoustic instruments and a single microphone. The set up and the setting, the venue being a former church, led to an incredibly intimate show, despite the fairly sizeable room and a few increasingly rowdy folks at the back, who were struggling to respect the fact that everyone else in the room was there to only hear Petunia.

Beyond the very occasional interruption from the aforementioned rabble, and a few times wishing Petunia would move closer to the mic, the show was flawless.

Completely stripped to bare instrumentation, that incredible voice shone through, ever brighter and more nuanced. It allowed me to notice for the first time just how much Petunia uses his whole month to achieve his sound – he is a fascinating performer. I firmly believe he would be performing this incredible music, and in the same manner, whether there was 1,000 people here, or absolutely no-one.

It is rare that a performer would be brave enough to strip almost everything from his songs and stand in front of a single microphone. It speaks to the strength of the song, the voice, the will, and the heart. All that was missing was the campfire.


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