Before I move onto Courtney herself a massive shout out to Islington Assembly Hall. This is by far the best mid-sized venue in London and I have yet to have a bad experience here. The sound quality from the first note was spot on and although the gig was sold out the venue never over sell and so there is always room to move about. Sight lines are great, toilets are the best venue toilets in London. Only criticism is beer is expensive.
After first seeing Courtney a year ago in small pub in Guildford in front of thirty people, the universal acclaim and quality of ‘Honest Life’ and new album ‘May your Kindness Remain’ have seen her step up to the 800 capacity IAH.
In keeping with the venue upgrade so too has Courtney herself. No longer the shy, slightly withdrawn woman that graced the Keep in Guildford, she has matured as an artist and really grown into this now found status. The band too have all stepped up their game, they are tight without being showy, understated but driving the sound along perfectly and provide the perfect foil for her sublime vocals.
Often compared to Joni or Emmylou what I take now from her voice especially on the new album is how much it sounds like Maria McKee particularly at the higher end of her range. And boy what a range. Stylistically it’s generally a folk/country fusion but on ‘Border’, one of my favourite tracks from the new album, there is a real Pink Floyd vibe going on with the Rick Wright organ and then the Gilmour inspired guitar solo.
The pacing of the show is perfect with a nice blend of ballads and up-tempo numbers with Andrews shifting effortlessly between acoustic, electric guitar and organ. I have seen another review of tonight claiming the performance was sluggish and road weary. Well this is not a Beyoncé show, what are they expecting. However, if you want to be transfixed for ninety minutes and lose yourself in a lush voice supported by fine musicians then I dare you to suggest where you will find a better example of this in contemporary music today.
It’s too difficult to pick a highlight on a night of such high standards but the encore of ‘Irene’, ‘Let the good one go’ and the Little Feat cover of ‘Willin’ rounded off the evening perfectly.
‘till the next time, keep on country folk rockin’ y’all.