A warm Thursday night in N1 and a sold-out concert at the local Assembly Hall, a delightful medium-sized venue tucked inconspicuously at the side of the Islington Town Hall.

We were here for Sturgill Simpson, whose Metamodern Sounds In Country Music arrived like a psilocybin revelation earlier this year. Here was Kentucky country and western music on first listen as conventional as the rest, but that assumption masked a progressive core. It's become one of my favourite albums this year, a record that has affected me deeply and nuzzled out a warm place in my heart. An album of unflinching honesty, referencing drug consumption of Hunter S Thompson proportions, cosmic transcendentalism, meditation, depression, misery, existentialism and that most universal emotion, love.

And while a recent cycling injury has rendered me prescribed of late to my own heady concoction of heavy painkillers and indeed more illicit medication, to say that I was greatly looking forward to this concert would have been an understatement. In the days leading up, I'd been imagining Sturgill and I whacked out on medication in some vast American desert, howling at the moon. The desert of central London would have to do.

It would seem that most of Islington were on much the same wavelength and I was pleasantly surprised that an artist who is ostensibly known for making country music could sell out a venue in London's most desirable and indeed, smug postcode (as far as I know, the long-serving MP for Islington North was not in attendance, although I do imagine that he would have approved.)

I arrived early to catch the opener, an endearing songwriter by the name of Joe Pugg, ("Good evening y'all. I'm here to warm up the stage") who battled against some perhaps inevitable, indifferent crowd chatter but delighted those who were paying attention. Joe played a handful of tunes rich in the traditions of Americana, appended by colourful stories and folk tales. It's always hard for relatively unknown touring partners, but Joe was engaging and those that were listening found an artist willing to poke fun at his own back-catalogue in between playing songs that were literary, melodic, folksy and true. Occupying the stage with only an acoustic guitar and harmonica, Joe carried the audience with him, paid no attention to those who were more inclined to conversation and did everything a support artist should do. At times meek and quiet, at other moments defiant and bold - his songwriting came clearly from the heart and from lived experience - he carried the stage with a genial air. Fans of M Ward, Ryan Adams and the late Vic Chesnutt would find a lot to appreciate here and we'll look forward to having you back, Joe.

A short break and Sturgill Simpson with band took the stage to a huge expulsion of enthused cheers from the gathered throng, a packed room at this point and more still arriving. It surprised me that the crowd were so completely behind the band; at times it seemed as if this were a local lad done good and returned and Sturgill noted this warmth as well, but wherever he led us we gladly followed. It took four songs before the band embarked on music from his breakout second album - a refreshing perspective on constructing setlists, I might add. Whilst the general set included a great many Metamodern Sounds tracks, it was a balanced set that picked from his previous album and included a few numbers that haven't been recorded, as they 'didn't seem to fit anywhere'.

The interplay between the band was compelling. Accompanied by bassist, Stratocaster, keyboardist and drummer, Sturgill danced merry between them during the frequent improvised, elongated moments - encouraging solos and directing the jams. 'Living The Dream' and 'Long White Line' were played midway through and drawn out into extended fuzzy jams that bordered on straight-up rock and roll. If this was country music, then by god it was the heaviest, scuzziest, most Dionysian incarnation I've witnessed. Songs tumbled over into each other and frequently stretched the ten-minute mark, exceeding their recorded length by distances. This was a hugely capable band of musicians not once overstepping their mark as individual performers but playing in unison and held together by Sturgill's mesmeric, powerful vocals.

My codeine was kicking in as Sturgill was singing about the aliens he met in the desert, the conversations with God, how DMT and marijuana had changed his perspectives. The profoundly beautiful cover of When In Rome's 'The Promise', reinterpreted with added pathos and a climactic final movement that elevates the whole piece, was a particular highlight but in part softened by Sturgill's eagerness to skip the melodic lines ahead to the raised-octave of the final chorus, an impatience he acknowledged afterwards in saying "I think I got a little carried away there..." - understandable and hard not to get caught up given the enthusiasm in the room. People danced, sang along, cheered every solo, I locked arms with strangers and spun in ridiculous circles - it was a delight from start to finish to be in such a warm, receptive and appreciative crowd - and I wasn't expecting that.

By the time this review goes out, both Sturgill and Joe will have played at Green Man and they'll be off on the European leg of their tour. This gig felt very much like a special occasion where audience and artist meet up in a perfect moment of mutual appreciation. Sturgill was full of thanks, to his new record label for taking the punt, to all of us for showing up and knowing the words (although frankly I hadn't come to hear Londonites sing cover versions over an astoundingly talented vocalist and did have to move position in the crowd on one occasion, what's with that?), and a special thanks to the Mayor of Islington who had apparently 'busted' the band earlier that day but chosen wisely to turn the other cheek.

This was a wonderful concert performed by an artist at a seminal moment, playing songs that have found an audience far and wide and I wouldn't be overstating it in the slightest by suggesting that Sturgill could have quite easily kept us rapt and dancing all night. It was that kind of concert and I floated home down the Essex Road, I wished we could meet up and do it all again tomorrow.