I first saw Aoife at Merlefest in North Carolina in 2005 when she was one of 3 featured singers in the Wayfaring Strangers, a 10 piece band including tutors, pupils and alumni from various Boston music schools. Since then I’ve seen her in Sometymes Why, the excellent Crooked Still, as a guest with The Transatlantic Sessions band, and memorably last year as part of the I’m With Her trio alongside Sara Watkins and Sarah Jarosz. At some point her writing took off and she got a song on an Alison Krauss album, which presumably is enough of an earner to allow the writer to take time off the road and pursue new ideas
I’ve never seen Aoife solo but I know she toured the UK at least once, entirely on her own, with a guitar on her back and travelling by public transport. I think anyone who’d gone to see her last night based on her solo tour (and I think there were quite a few last night in that category) would have been in for a surprise. What we got was a soundscape experience, showcasing her new album In The Magic Hour, with Aoife supported superbly with Anthony Da Costa (elec guitar, vocals and effects pedals) and Steve Nistor (drums). It took me a while to twig that this was the same drummer who, as part of the Daniel Lanois Trio, had backed Emmylou Harris when she performed Wrecking Ball at the Barbican in 2014. This would have been meat and drink to him as Aoife’s vocal style and Da Costa’s effects laden guitar lines were very reminiscent of that gig
As well as her own material, from her new album and her previous CD Fossils, Aoife performed a splendid solo version of Springsteen’s “Nebraska” and the band encored with Emmylou’s Boulder to Birmingham
Looked like a sell out to me, in support of the redoubtable Steve Henderson who has been promoting locally as Mr Kite since 1997, with all profits donated to nominated charities. A lot of people go to his gigs because they trust his taste in music
It made me think..
of Joni Mitchell and Pat Metheny, which is a high standard to attain. Aoife is still only 33. She has the potential to sustain a long and successful career. Only a few more gigs on this tour. I recommend it highly