MARGO CILKER at The Cluny, Newcastle

Margo Cilker
The Cluny
Newcastle Upon Tyne
8th May 2022

After having the pleasure of reviewing Margo Cilker’s ‘Pohorylle’ several months ago, I was delighted to be invited to do a review of her Cluny gig this week.

I wasn’t sure what to expect as the album had the benefit of a superb backing group – a veritable ‘who’s who’ in the American Americana field – whereas her UK tour was as a plain and simple solo act.

After a very well delivered opening set from a young girl who was knew to me, Mauis Mollis, (give her a listen) Margo arrived to announce this would be ‘Pohorylle and a few bits and bobs’ so that was me already happy.

Opening with ‘That River’ any concerns I had about her going solo just disappeared as this was just like the album and delivered with her very soothing vocal. Each track was followed by a very amusing and entertaining footnote about the track or the circumstances around the writing of it.

The vagaries of the USA Health System
‘an ambulance call costs about $20,000
was the background to the true story of ‘Broken Arm in Oregon’ with Margo having been the injured party who then had to ride her horse back home to be treated!

Intimate venues like The Cluny can often disappoint when the act doesn’t get the audience on side early in the set, but there was no chance of that here as Margo just drifted from track to story to track like a seasoned performer.

She delivered what she referred to as ‘the breakfast trio’ which dealt with songs about food in general in various States and breakfast in particular – it doesn’t sound very amusing but here, it drew several laughs from an attentive audience as Margo had them ‘eating out of her hands’.

Highlights to me were ‘Tehachapi’ and ‘Brother, Taxman, Preacher’ as much for the linked stories as for the actual album tracks.

60 plus minutes that seemed to fly over before several joined the queue for merchandise with everyone getting the opportunity to chat to her for a few minutes.

After spells in the UK and The Basque Country (not to be confused with Spain!!) she was clearly enjoying her UK Tour and I would guess she might be back soon once her next album is released.

What we would refer to in North East parlance as a ‘proper canny night’.

Review by the Legendary Bill Redhead

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