Walking into the venue on this warm summer night, my first impression of it was that it smelled a bit like a sewer. But perhaps it was a faint ghost of the stench it must have posessed back in the days when this was a brewery…I’ve visited functioning breweries and they smell worse than any sewer!
A Swedish band whose name I didn’t catch opened for Courtney with songs of the Americana kind; pretty good but not good enough for me to google their name…
Courtney Marie Andrews looks incredibly young to possess such a powerful voice and such mature songwriting gifts, and along with her equally young band members they look like a bunch of hipsters that met in a juice bar and decided to form a band. So when, after the excellent opening track of “How Quickly Your Heart Mends”, Courtney announces the next track with the line “this is a song about the gentrification of American cities”, we all giggle. But it’s easy to forget the hipster haircuts, beards and hats of “Joe and the Juice” (the name I give the band in my mind as they step onto the stage) as soon as Courtney’s sensational voice rings out and song after beautiful song keeps coming. F*ck “Americana”; this is modern country music and it’s as steeped in tradition as it is original and fresh.
Among the many hit & runs from the latest album they also play a very good new song, and as usual I’m on one or two occasions forced to fiddle about with my camera to avoid tearing up.
We get an hour’s worth of brilliant music, including one encore, and you couldn’t tell that this was the first gig of their European tour, or that they’d been travelling for 21 hours to get here.
After the gig they all headed for the merch table, and for a brief moment I considered buying my first band/artist T-shirt ever until I realised that it’s cash only. The bar, on the other hand, was card only…so at least I got a nice stiff drink to celebrate the evening with!
Well, a few hipsters on this side of the stage as well, and plenty of men of what I like to call the “middle-aged nodders” variety. It’s what it says on the tin: middle-aged men who only move their heads when listening to music – god forbid anyone could mistake them for dancers…
As usual the Big and Tall Club For Men was in attendance and eager to stand in front of the shortest woman in the room (me).
It made me think..
If she’s this good now, how good will her songwriting be when she’s fifty and has had a longer lifetime of experiences to express? With only four months left of the year, “Honest Life” still looks secure in the Top Five of 2017 list…