Live Review: David Ford at Iota, Arlington, VA – 5th May 2012

By on Wednesday, 23rd May 2012 at 2:00 pm

At Iota, a small club outside Washington, DC, a cadre of loyal fans greeted unconventional singer David Ford for a Sunday evening serenade. Hailing from the south of England, Ford came highly recommended to me by another music writer I trust. Even still, I went in cold, knowing not a single thing about this man’s music. Indeed as I was foretold, I was sucked in and converted before the first song was over. ‘Pour a Little Poison’ opened the night with a rollicking, harmonica laced sing along from his latest release ‘Ford 4.2’. More a bard than a balladeer, he continued to offer up raw acoustic folk songs, raucous political tunes, tense ballads, loud multi-looped screamy numbers and some plain old straight up indie rock. The man truly defies categorization.

Armed with just a guitar and a loop pedal (for a few songs, drummer Joey Love joined him on stage) Ford made music that easily filled the room. His voice rasped through the tunes almost hoarse and raw with emotion. Despite his suggestion that his harmonica playing “produced a harsh, raspy sound”, it suited his full throttle delivery. The transitions between solo acoustic numbers, layered, multi-tracked songs, and the added percussionist was effortless and effective, bringing the crowd on a musical journey through his catalog. He created a brilliant balance to the set, as I think relying too heavily on the multi-track element of a loop pedal can be annoying. We were also supremely lucky to learn that the support act had canceled so he was going to be doing two sets that evening. However, he warned us, there was a price, “you have to put up with some songs that I don’t know very well because I wasn’t expecting to do this.” Even though I was not familiar with his songs, if there was a flub of any kind, it was masterfully camouflaged with the tormented beauty of his delivery.

The song ‘It’s the Economy Stupid’ (clearly about…well, you get it) was a request from the crowd and in a quintessentially English moment he quipped, “this is my most potty-mouthed song ever, so if you are offended by bad language, now’s the time for you to…. fuck off.” My favorite lyrics of the night were found in the song ‘Song for the Road’, an aching tribute to the realities of a forever love: “now I don’t lightly use words like forever / but I will love you ‘til the end of today, and in the morning when I remember everything that you are / well I know I’ll fall for you over again.” Ford’s second set started of with the tour de force tune ‘Go to Hell’. The intricacies this man can achieve all on his own had me absolutely transfixed. To get an idea of what it’s like live, you can see him perform this song live in his studio (complete with water jugs and spoons!) below.


Despite the line “I’ll wear my cynicism like a tattoo”, Ford’s love of music is clear and true. He has made a career out of bucking the system. He refuses to bow to outside industry pressures and continues to make the kind of music he loves and plays it to only the people who want to hear it that way. The chronicled account of a decade of making music his way is available in his book ‘I Choose This: How to Nearly Make It in the Music Industry’. I plan on picking it up since I am thoroughly enthralled with the man and his talent. Anyone who can, should make the effort to see him live. Doing so makes a statement about supporting musicians, something I can get behind 100%.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

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