It was the 7th of September, just another day, when David Ramirez played London for a second time in 2018. But for the Austin-born, the gig at the Borderline surely felt like an unbeatable chance to pay tribute and honour those who suffered the event that changed everyone’s life in recent History: 9/11.
The singer – who has dual American and Mexican heritage – chose ‘Twins’ to open the last UK show of his European tour, asking the audience where were they when “we lost the twins”, and mimicking the start of his latest album ‘We’re not going anywhere’ (Thirty Tigers, 2017).
The subsequent cheering of a crowded venue went even louder when keyboard player Matthew Wright launched the synthy arpeggio announcing the start of ‘Watching from a Distance’. This is one of the best tracks of Ramirez’s fourth studio album, for which he brought onboard producer Sam Kassirer.
Wearing a black shirt but no cap or denim jacket this time – unlike he’s been seen doing in his latest shows – Ramirez played acoustic guitar for the first tracks of his show, whilst lead guitarist Simon Page alternated electric and pedal steel.
After overcoming some power troubles with his silver glitter electric Epiphone, the place went completely silent to enjoy the emotional ‘Time’, another highlight of the show. The soft start of the song let Ramirez’s voice conquer the place until Adam Nurre’s hard drums and Morgan Thompson’s bass woke everyone up from daydreaming, lifting the tune to its big finale.
Tunes from its latest album where intercalated with songs from his previous record ‘Fables’ (Thirty Tigers, 2015), such as ‘How Do You Get ‘Em Back” or ‘Harder to Lie’. ‘Communion’ gifted the crowd with a bit of a classical harmonica sound, bringing a bit of Texas right to the centre of the UK’s capital.
Before Ramirez came onstage, Matthew Logan Vasquez took the support act slot. The singer of San Diego-based band Delta Spirit played songs from his second solo record ‘Does What He Wants’, warming-up before a long US and European tour later this year.
As the show was coming to an end, Ramirez called the venue’s attention to announce the next song, ‘Eliza Jane’, by telling the story behind the track. The tune, dedicated to the singer’s great-grandmother describes how she and her brothers left Oklahoma during the Great Depression, heading to Oregon, where she played piano in a country band.
“I wish I’d known her, cause there’s not other musician in my family. And when I look for the reason why I do this, I wish I had her to ask and learn about what drove her,” Ramirez said before joining Wright in a stripped down version of the track.
An early curfew seemed to rush the end of the show, with Ramirez literally looking at his watch onstage while announcing the last one of the night: ‘I’m Not Going Anywhere’, the track that closes his latest album.
“This is a middle finger to death,” said Ramirez. “May you live a life that is so bold and wild that it exists after you leave this world,” the singer wished to everyone before downing his whisky and immerse himself in a heartfelt fight against everyone’s ghosts.
Words by: Daniel Ruiz