Whitney Rose Band @ The Cluny2
Monday 7th May 2018
For a variety of reasons I fell out of love with ‘live music’ last year; partly because of the odd hours my day job leave me constantly tired and also I’d sort of ‘seen everyone’ with no one exciting me the way they used to do.
Then a couple of weeks ago I went to see Canadian singer-songwriter Jerry Leger who played an exciting and intimate concert in Durham, which reignited the flame in readiness for taking Mrs Magpie to see one of our favourite acts from the last few years; Whitney Rose tonight.
The evening started in the newly designed Cluny II with friend of the Rocking Magpie, the recently repatriated Mrs Gem Andrews who has been domiciled in Germany for a couple of years, with her friend Sue McLaren supplying harmonies.
Hearing Gem’s warm ‘burr’ on opening song Letter from the newest album North after so long was a delight in itself; but the stripped back interpretation gave it an almost earthy resonance, which set the tone for the short and (bitter) sweet set.
While introducing the next song, Sing Your Song which is about domestic violence Gem unceremoniously hitched her jeans up and told us they were elasticated maternity ones……because she was pregnant!
I wasn’t expecting that …….but felt quite paternal at the news, as I’ve known the young singer-songwriter for quite a few years now.
The 30 minutes flew by in the twinkle of an eye, with the two Julia Darling poem/songs from North both sounding even lovelier in this setting but the actual highlight was the coal mining song Lungs; which came as no surprise as it’s the finest song Gem has ever written, never mind sung.
Then following a short break the small hall filled to just short of capacity; which was quite an achievement on a red hot Bank Holiday Monday to welcome Whitney’s band who regaled us with a cool instrumental Ode to BJ, before the Princess of Modern Country Music made her eye-popping appearance! The big Cowboy hat and boots were no surprise, but the leather Daisy Dukes and the Gold ‘Elvis’ Cape which covered very little was a huge surprise!
Not that her clothing was ever going to distract from the music…..God Forbid.
With two albums and an ace EP at her disposal Whitney chose the sassy Country Classic Harper Valley PTA to open the show; and Live Music hardly gets better than that three minutes.
This was immediately followed by one of my favourite songs of hers, My Boots then the sweet and sultry Three Minute Love Affair which had everyone around me tapping out the beat on their thighs.
With time being of the essence on a School Night; there was very little time for chat or indeed intros; but we were here for the music anyway……and music of the highest order we got, from a singer and band who must surely be on the cusp of the Major Leagues sometime soon?
Pretty much all of Rule 62 and the EP South Texas Suite got a run out tonight with Analog, You’re a Mess and You Don’t Scare Me getting noisy applause as they faded to a close; but it was evident from the cheers that greeted The Devil Borrowed my Boots that this was a knowledgable group of fans who have been with her for the long haul.
Baring in mind Whitney and band had just arrived after a twelve hour journey from Kilkenny in Southern Ireland where they had played two gigs the previous day; their energy level was sky high throughout the 90 minute set that couldn’t have been more Country if John Wayne and Johnny Cash had walked in.
My own personal highlight of a red hot set? Trucker’s Funeral of course. If any one song can define this songwriter’s skill it has to be this one; taking a spectacularly odd subject and making it a smile inducing weepy of the highest order; what’s not to like y’all.
But Mrs. Magpie has just reminded me that there were another two spectacular cover versions worthy of mention; Tom T Hall’s How I Got From Memphis and the song that received a gasp, Suspicious Minds……and the applause nearly shook the walls when it ended.
I’m not normally a fan of encores; but tonight it was fully deserved with the band regaling us with another intricate instrumental, Sleepwalk before Whitney brought the show to a close with an exquisite version of Two More Bottles, before spending nearly half an hour signing CD’s and getting her picture taken with adoring fans.
Normal service has now resumed and my faith in Live Music is certainly restored after a short hiatus.