It’s all Peace n’ Love ambience tonight as the PA soundtrack plays ‘Woodstock’ covers and all things hippy groove set the evening’s mood. Opening guest slot is Hannah Georgas, alt.Indie-pop siren in her turquoise spangled mini-skirt and a Canadian TransAtlantic wide disarming smile. Her’s is a lilting, minimalist flair exploring the inner-spaces of austere harmony and gentle synth/acoustic guitar resonances. There was the occasional edge lent by a drum machine that conjured-up all sorts of stripped-down Adele, Jack Black and Black Keys tangental indulgences.
Erring, just for a moment or two towards electronica kitsch tweeness she ever redeemed herself with exquisite, disembodied midnight flights of fantasy haloed by a flock of celestial seagulls. Songs of youthful innocence bruised by the muse of painful experience and grief encounters. We’re to hear more from her as backing for main act Kat Edwards. Actually, you’d best take the all the previously written with a pinch of salt because, to be honest, the moment she walked on stage and let the angels loose from her body and soul I discovered that my review notes consisted three densely written pages of JK â™¥ HG.
Setlist: Elephant, Somebody, Deep End, Enemies, Waiting, Fantasize, Shine.
Dropping in to a sell-out Glee Club, Kathleen Edwards and her incandescent band, more of whom later, show-cased songs from the recently released album ‘Voyager’ (2012). Drawing on her globe-trotting well-spent youth soaking up the likes of Dylan, Neil Young and Tom Petty to be getting on with, it’s hardly surprising she’s immersed herself in all things gloriously alt.Country Grit Folk. Though quite where a certain web-site salutation referring to her muse as ‘Down-tempo/Screamo/Tango’ is coming from is open to conjecture. Less ambiguous is her decidedly fruity strawberry-blonde role as anarchic classroom teacher in her You Tube video ‘The Cheapest Key’. Cliche contrived – be that as it may – but those decidedly bewitching Cate Blanchett blushing cheekbones has one begging for a lesson in firm discipline.
The set opens with ‘Empty Threat’ to a metronomic click that swells with a Country & Western bliss of jingle-jangle harmonies with the band tighter that a camel’s butt in a sand-storm. Her crystal vocals infused with passionate introspection but never self-indulgence recall Suzanne Vega in her vulnerable exposition and just every so often the heart searing intensity of Canadian compatriot Mary Margaret O’Hara. And the band? Well, surely that was Robert Louis Stevenson on bass? No one else could sport such a dashing mustache. And, but for his gracious modesty, lead guitarist Gord Tough, might well have blown the stage away with his mesmerising fret-fulls of finger-licking dexterity. Think Ry Cooder, Mark Knopfler Chris Isaaks and Richard Thompson just for starters. Aspiring audience musicians in the audience wept and looked in despair at their hands as though they’d morphed in to boxing-gloves.
There was an interlude of solo numbers drawing on semi-autobiographical confessional reminiscences and the anecdotal ‘Pink Champagne’ shimmered with a luscious, plaintive church-bell piano refrain. But, lest things got slushy Gord Tough kicked the distortion pedal to the metal and we were swept away with a Bo-Diddley road-Blues cruise with Tom Petty at the wheel. The main set drew to a close with an enchanting violin led lament augmented by lazy-day bass and a sizzling drum snare. Not sure of the title but there were all sorts of beguiling images of Dolores O’Riordan as a femme-fatale torch-chantress relating weird scenes inside the Hotel California. Well, possibly. Encores came with, in particular, ‘Copied Keys’ an acoustic duet that shivered with the lyric ‘This is not my town and it never will be’ it’s melancholic ambience suffused with ripples of Melanie’s ‘Ruby Tuesday’ set against gossamer-winged slide guitar. O contrarie – Ms. Edwards, Birmingham was very much your town tonight.
Setlist: Empty Threat, Chameleon, Asking For Flowers, Soft Place To Land, Mint, Hockey Skates, Pink Champagne, Going To Hell, Sidecar, Back To Me, Goodnight California, 12 Bellevue, Change The Sheets, Copied Keys, 6 O’Clock News.
(Many thanks, as ever, to GC hospitality and stage-techs’ generosity.)
Review – John Kennedy
Photos – Steve Gerrard