Jumping Hot Club
Caedmon Hall, Gateshead
8th May 2016
This was Mrs. Magpie’s 5th gig of 2016 and one she even changed a shift at work to attend; so perhaps I am finally converting her to ‘the cause.’
We’ve both been fans of Ms. Cantrell since a friend gave me a copy of Not The Trembling Kind as a birthday present; 14 years ago and since then we haven’t missed any of her Jumping Hot Club appearances; and just like the previous three tonight; in the largish Caedmon Hall had been Sold Out for weeks in advance.
The support act, the duo My Girl The River were an interesting choice; as singer Kris Hughes had been in Laura’s ‘favourite band’ when she had first moved to Nashville many moons ago; and was giddily excited to finally have Kris and Joe Hughes (on Dbl. Bass) support her in the UK.
Plugging their new album This Ain’t No Fairytale; singer Kris regaled us with most songs back-story’s and while a couple went on a tad longer than necessary; (I got the feeling that the bubbly American likes to ‘chat’!) they did capture the imagination; just as the songs themselves did.
Second song in, Woods Behind Our House and the atmospheric title track with Joe’s hypnotic bass playing really stood out.
While I personally could have done with a couple more up-beat songs like Are You Still in New York; I could see why Laura Cantrell went to great lengths to get them to support her.
After a short break (which had a queue backing down the stairs for the merch stand!) Laura Cantrell was led through the crowd by the legendary singer-songwriter Shipcote; to join her guitarist Mark Spencer and bass player Jordan Caress on the stage; and before I go any further can I salute Ms. Caress for wearing a Siouxie and the Banshees t-shirt!
The set opened with Pile of Woe from Laura’s breakthrough album Not The Trembling Kind; which she told us was first released 16 years ago!
Next up was Can’t Wit from Laura’s most recent album; and I hardly recognised as Mark Spencer filled it with some really cool Chet Atkins style guitar licks; turning it into a delightful piece of old-school Country.
While including a host of rarely heard songs from Trembling Kind; Laura was promoting a new BBC Sessions CD/LP/Coffee Mug/Tote Bag combination; with a couple of heartfelt introductions regarding John Peel who was a an early advocate of her work (check her website out for some cool freebies too!) and tonight’s version of Little Bit of You was dedicated to the Great Man.
It would really take something to overshadow Laura Cantrell at a JHC gig; but Mark Stewart came very close with some amazing guitar playing throughout the gig; most noticeably when he turned a beautiful wooden guitar into a ‘pedal-steel’ on All The Girls Are Complicated and then a cover of Bonnie Owens’ You Don’t Have Very Far To Go; then seamlessly adding some more stomping Chet Atkins licks on Laura’s ode to Bonnie Owens, The Queen of the Coast. Boy; can this guy play a guitar!!!
As expected in this lovely Council run venue; time was of the essence as there is a curfew; so the chat was cut short as more songs were shoe horned into the set; with Do You Ever Think of Me and All The Same To You both sounding sublime tonight.
I don’t know if she actually meant to throw a ‘Spoiler’ in; but she told us that she had already pre-recorded the gorgeous Two Seconds for a future edition of the Andrew Marr TV Show….and there’s me thinking it was 100% live!
I’ve mentioned before; that my love of live music comes from the excitement of seeing and hearing something that will never happen again; and that’s what happened during the ‘Cashtastic’ version of Big Wheel tonight; when something went wrong with Laura’s tuning mid-song; but the band kept on playing and our heroine sang like a trouper.
Then we had the encore ‘charade’ with Laura leaving the stage; only to beckon Kris to join her for a song I don’t recollect hearing before; Can’t Tell a Soul; and their voices intertwined majestically; leaving me hoping for a collaboration sometime in the future.
Then Mark and Jordan joined the duo for the Merle Haggard song, Sing Me Back Home.
Even after seeing Laura Cantrell perform seven times now; tonight was a very special concert; with all of the constituent parts; including a very knowledgable and appreciative audience combining as one.