Josh Taerk LIVE @ The Monarch, Camden

Touring before the UK release of his debut album, singer-songwriter Josh Taerk was bringing his massive Americana-Rock vibes from Canada to The Monarch in Camden. With velvety red drapes covering the windows, The Monarch is a very awkward looking little duckling of a pub from the outside. Inside however, a miniscule stage, some cushty seats and a few men who look like they could be in a band (pint in hand) talking very audibly about some of their wildest nights – The place is quite the Camden stereotype! Especially when it’s over four quid a pint of your standard Camden pub shit beer selection.

The barmaid was standing in front of the only fan in the establishment as the spotlights were beaming. In this heat, the small crowd composed of locals, friends of the performers and tourists, scattered around the small tables spread in front of the equally small stage, became quite a tame Wednesday night audience. If no one was getting up, it was because our arses were sticking to the leather seats and arms to the tables – where the proximity of a freshly bought drink that was quickly turning into a flat tepid liquid was very comforting.

But as the generic pub music slowly fades out, Josh Taerk accompanied by Organised Chaos get on stage.  Set to play songs out of the UK re-edition of Taerk’s debut album Never Look Back meant to hit the UK markets this autumn.

After pumping some energy into the crowd with a very polished yet dynamic rendition of “Man in the Mirror”. It became perfectly clear that Springsteen was a definite influence for the musician. “ Six minutes into the show I can already tell what his lovemaking style is.” said Melissa, a friend of mine, who was so kind as to join me on my review mission.  Melissa and I exchanged an amused look. As cynical Londoners, perhaps Americana, as a genre, is slightly too “heart on your sleeve”, honest and positive for us to genuinely appreciate we thought.

But as the pints went down and as the show continued, Taerk and the band played “I’ll Live For You” a song very resonant of “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes. And as if transported to a little venue in the south of the United-States where I’m positive that style of music would make the crowds go mad, I sort of understood why certain people could be drawn to that type of music.

All and all, the 22-year old singer-songwriter knows how to perform like a professional: sailing the audience through the show, promoting his due album, getting the crowd going. One can tell that a lot of effort and soul goes into his music.

On another note, I also remember thinking that maybe for that kind of small venue an acoustic show would’ve also been perfectly in order. Even though the band was brilliant, all the instruments gave a bit of a revival-church-type-music element to the performance, which I found was a tad bit too much at times. Nonetheless, as far as small pub gigs go, it was a really nice show. If Americana is your style I’d definitely recommend checking Josh Traek out next time he’s in London!

Sophie Adam