There’s something odd when a songwriter from Martha’s Vineyard finds success across the Atlantic Ocean that is larger than over the Cape Cod canal. So is the case with Willy Mason, a “hometown” hero who has earned acclaim in the UK but remains overlooked by American audiences. His latest album, Carry On, was first released in Europe where Mason has supported massive shows for Mumford and Radiohead. Tonight was the closing date of a US tour, returning to Boston where his opening set for Conor Oberst two months back had reintroduced many in the audience to his music.
Even in becoming a “gentleman of the road” Willy Mason remains at heart an artist who fits comfortably inside a small club. Ever affable, Mason offered sly grins and light banter between songs. The wry humor of introducing “Where The Humans Eat” as “here’s a song about a cat,” then noting, “that about does it for all the layers of meaning,” captured the disarming effect of his lyric. Whether on classic black guitar, or on a borrowed Gretsch White Falcon, the intricate finger picking was strongly accentuated by a homemade foot stomp box. And in a moment of unscripted charm, when violinist Nina Violet’s mic stand refused to remain upright a guy in the front row kindly lent a hand and held the stand until it could be replaced. It was a fully enjoyable performance, a coda before Willy Mason takes off once more for England and Australia this spring.