"This is the weirdest gig I've ever been to."
We're at Bush Hall in Shepherd's Bush, standing in the midst of a crowd of Jack Savoretti fans while the man himself is on stage. My friend, let's call her V, has just turned to me and said the above. What prompted her?
Well, some random guy in the audience has, in the lull between songs, just yelled for everyone to hear: "I'm having a great time, Jack."
I'm having a surreal time, and so is V (and my other friend F). This isn't like any gig I've been to before either.
For a start there's the strange demographic of the crowd. Aside from the guy who's having a great time, there are a bunch of Jack Wills-wearing Oxbridge types, plenty of older couples, a load of "yummy mummies" and lots and lots of men who keep shouting about having a great time, or just making general yelling man noises showing they're having a great time.
V's theory is that Savoretti is the kind of guy inspires bromance among the fellow members of his sex, that he makes guys feel how Bruce Springsteen makes guys feel - that kind of guys hanging out, being cool together vibe. I can sort of see it (Savoretti wears a Springsteen-esque half unbuttoned shirt and he's got that confidence), but, and I really like Savoretti, I'm still reluctant to buy into that theory. Still, it goes some way to explaining the men clapping really, really loudly, yelling and sticking their arms in the air in that pop rock way while they sing along.
The other thing leading me to have a surreal time is the double bass player in Savoretti's band, Tom Benzon. He's really, really talented, but really, really distracting. There's no delicate way to put this - he makes come hither faces while he plays. And caresses his double bass like it's a woman (or a man). And there may have been hip movement.
Still, apart from the strange make up of the audience, the men shouting how much they love Savoretti (I expect to hear someone yell: "Come on, my son") and the distracting double bass player, it's a great gig (for me, V's not a fan).
Savoretti has a brilliant energy, which is perhaps why the crowd gets so whipped up - there's a moment when everyone goes nuts at the opening chords of Dreamers after Savoretti dedicates it to "all the old friends".
I don't have to wait too long before Savoretti plays Vagabond, which is my favourite song off the new album, Before the Storm. Yes, it wasn't among the two favourites I was debating about when I reviewed Before the Storm, but since then it's shot to the top of my playlist.
Savoretti does play those two previously favourite songs of mine - For the Last Time and The Proposal. He gives For the Last Time a sharp twist, infusing it with much more anger than on the album.
Take Me Home features vocals from a girl called Rebecca (I think) who won a competition to try and find the best cover version of the song. She's sweet but looks terrified, and only relaxes when Savoretti throws smiles at her.
Savoretti's voice is, if possible, huskier in person than it is recorded, but that's no bad thing in my opinion, and judging by the opinions of the shouting masses around me.
This might be the most surreal gig I've been to, but it's also pretty fun - a great support act (Melodica, Melody and Me - I'm definitely going to find out more about them), a crowd that makes me laugh (if only for weird reasons) and a talented musician on stage.
Hey, Jack, I'm having a great time...