Star rating: ****
“I LOVE it here,” declared New York-born, Colorado-raised, Nashville-made country siren Gretchen Peters, beaming as she strobe back onto the stage at the end of her show. The Queen’s Hall loves her too, for this grand old former church was the perfect location in which to hear a repertoire of cultured and resonantly performed roots and country music from Peters and her backing trio.
Accompanied by her husband Barry Walsh on grand piano, Christine Bougie on drums and guitar, and Conor McCreanor on bass, the recent inductee into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, sometime Grammy award nominee and songwriter for and with the likes of Etta James, Neil Diamond and Bryan Adams carries a formidable talent all of her own. Her songwriting is affecting and frequently exquisite, and her guitar playing added richness to a set-up which is already finely-tuned for musical depth, but it’s her voice which really set things off.
She sang with a softness which offset the customary Nashville twang, adding hopeful yearning and bittersweet experience to songs of love and death from her new album Blackbirds, to her signature solo track Independence Day and other tracks from across her career such as Idlewild and the heart-stoppingly fragile On a Bus to St Cloud.
She finished in upbeat style with a barrelling cover of I Ain’t Living Long Like This (made famous by both Emmylou Harris and Waylon Jennings) then duetting with Walsh on John Prine’s marvellously impudent In Spite of Ourselves, a masterful change of pace from a skilled and ever-listenable artist.
Seen on 3 April
This Californian quartet live up to their name – as in, if you’re looking for vintage trouble, you have certainly come to the right place. These guys are known for their fidelity to classic rhythm ’n’ blues, with the emphasis firmly on blues.
Flamboyant frontman Ty Taylor worships at the altar of Otis Redding (for vocals) and James Brown (for footwork), breaking out an aching soul croon as readily as his brisk repertoire of spins. While he worked the stage and beyond with ceaseless energy, his three dapper Dan bandmates laid on the mean, fuzzy licks with a righteous confidence.
Vintage Trouble are more persuasive as musicians and performers than songwriters. For this last night of their current tour, they pulled out the stops. Egged on by the crowd, Taylor celebrated with a lap round the venue, haring up to the balcony, balancing on the balustrades, basically leaping all over the furniture during the infectious Run Like the River.
At the other end of their soul spectrum, the tender ballad Not Alright by Me was milked with devotional testifying and given a peculiarly Caledonian spin with additional embellishment from a guest “bagpipe-blowing soul brother”.
As they revved up to their big finish, there was time for Taylor to take one final sprint around the stage brandishing a Saltire, then all four band members waded through the audience, straight to the merchandise stall to sign autographs for their devoted “Troublemakers”, who fell utterly for the hands-on approach.
Seen on 3 April