Justin Courtney Pierre @ The Underworld

28th May 2019

Arrived unusually early tonight for a warm up band. Having found a DJ(?) we settled into a quiet and understated Underworld to enjoy the relative calm in this otherwise crazy rock venue. Somewhat surprisingly this juxtaposition was a theme of the night full of informality, intimacy and intrigue.

With little to no fanfare, the tunes melted away, cuing a shuffle of the few feet who braved a Tuesday night gig in Camden. These brave folks were rewarded with one of the most open, honest and spirited shows we’ve been to for years.

Justin Courtney Pierre or more commonly known as the Lead Singer/Guitarist of Motion City Soundtrack, stood uneasy on stage. His nerves were clearly on edge and his body on flight (not fight) mode. Joined onstage by a long time buddy made it all just about manageable as he opened with some new tracks from his solo record. For a man on a solo tour, having been used to selling out theatres it was all very peculiar.

Sure he’s always had his band to back him up, but the shift in persona was marked. What in MCS clothes comes across as self deprecating humour, was exaggerated to vulnerability.

He needn’t have been so concerned as his output of short sharp pop ditties was totally on point. Everyone here were MCS fans, so he was already winning in our eyes. With just his road worn Telecaster on rough overdrive mode and a drum machine on repeat, he brought life and vitality to the room. Flexing from darkened pop of his new solo record on Undone, to raging indie rock of Ready Player One to the MCS styled I don’t know why she ran away, each track sounded bright and full of fragile beauty.

Between songs he’d invite us into his chaotic mind warehouse and chatted openly like this was his living room. He was refreshingly honest and mindful, yet erratic and somewhat bleak. This personality shone through as he played select MCS numbers, those he penned himself. Not surprising then they match his persona…the pop strummer Stand Too Close, heartbreaking Happy Anniversary, uplifting(ish) Broken Heart and lyrically cunning L.G.F.U.A.D.

In retrospect, it was sure to be a highlight of the year. One which brought light and brightness shining through some dark assembled clouds. A true pleasure to be there to support and a joy to be a part of.

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