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AAA Music | 24 June 2024

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Dave McPherson @ Borderline

| On 20, Mar 2011

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London, 17th March

Dave McPherson, frontman and principle songwriter for alt-metal quartet InMe, is in town – to sing and play some acoustic guitar at London’s Borderline. On St. Patrick’s Day! Surely no one is going? Surely no one really cares about InMe anymore, let alone the frontman? Surely those who do end up having to go – perhaps forced by their partner’s nostalgic love for Dave – will spend the evening sighing, wishing they could’ve spent St. Paddy’s day in an upbeat Irish pub rather than listening to what is most likely to be moody music in a moody atmosphere? As it turns out, people are going, people do care about InMe and Dave (really care), and people will actually spend the night laughing, shouting and perhaps even ‘booming’ and ‘shaking’ the room. Quite a lot of people in fact.

Shy and polite, main support act Howard James Kenny’s likeability is a product of his calm modesty in delivering extraordinary folk-pop. Kenny loops guitar line over guitar line, and melody over melody, but despite all his effects his music remains calming and understated. His stripped back rendition of Massive Attack’s ‘Tear Drop’ – containing looped layers of quivering falsetto – was undeniably the highlight. Shame everyone in the Borderline was too busy shouting amongst themselves to notice (Note to Kenny: don’t be too shy and polite to demand more volume).

All those flashy shenanigans and that arsey perfectionism that you’d generally expect from a charting rock star – and perhaps used to experience at an InMe gig – are omitted from tonight’s intimate show. No banner, no technicians – just Dave, his impeccable voice, and his tattered acoustic guitar. Launching straight into ‘Winter: Hibernation’ from his debut solo album ‘The Hardship Diaries’ – released April 10th – it’s clear from the offshoot that this is going to be special. Your average singer-songwriter gig tends to come with a sickly dose of melancholy, an overly generous dollop of downbeat angst, and an overpowering sense of brooding self-pity. Despite peddling that same brand of wistful pop-folk as those average singer-songwriters, McPherson dominates tonight’s concert with fun – plain and simple fun. There are endless smiles, self-deprecating jokes, hilarious anecdotes, and pints of Guiness – not to mention a genius, hysterically received cover of DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s ‘Boom! Shake The Room’ – all of which turn this acoustic evening into a party. And man is it refreshing.

Dave plays for just over an hour, cramming in covers – such as a sweet rendition of John Mayer’s ‘My Stupid Mouth’ – solo material, and, of course, versions of InMe songs. It’s a testament to McPherson’s new folk songs that they sit so comfortably next to the famous InMe songs. So, his own songs like ‘Before I Even Love You’ and ‘Summer: She Puts Me In A Good Mood’ (Daves new single, which he happily admits – with his Essex twang – “rips off the Neighbour’s theme tune chord”) are just as enjoyable as InMe songs ‘All Terrain Vehicle’ and ‘Turbulence’. McPherson is a gifted guitarist (often wheeling off interludes of little, technical solos), but it’s his distinctive voice that makes him such a fascinating listen – his range of gruff crooning to piercing falsetto highlighted no better than on new song ‘Love Rats’.

Ending his set (sans encore) with the big InMe single ‘Faster The Chase’ (from their hugely successful second album ‘White Butterfly’) undoubtedly garners the greatest crowd reaction – with the chorus literally being screamed back at him by all in attendance. However, the highlight was his stripped back rendition of InMe’s ‘I Will Honour You’ – which, after dedicating it to his two deceased grandfathers, had his visibly proud mother in floods of tears and grinning in adoration from ear to ear. Half way through the song a teary-eyed fans wanders over and gives the mum a massive hug – the fan’s emotional reaction only making the mother’s tears stream faster and her grin stretch even further. A touching moment.

Yes, InMe’s star may be dimming, but the fact that McPherson can summon a couple hundred fans into the Borderline before the official release of his debut solo album (and on a day like St. Patrick’s Day) shows that love for his band, and in particular its frontman, is ever-present. And, even after 15 years of being in InMe, Dave McPherson is still loving every minute of being a musician – this rock star doesn’t care whether he’s headlining a festival stage or playing in a pub, just so long as he’s playing. And after tonight’s reception, I don’t think there’s any danger of his relentless touring coming to an end anytime soon. A truly underrated artist.

Author: Clive Rozario

Photos: Laura Oliver