Concert Review – Rebecca Pronsky @ Live Theatre, Newcastle
Saturday 23 March
Life for a reviewer can be either hard or less hard. Trying to translate the minutes an artist spends on stage into around three hundred words that mean something to someone who wasn’t there, or to an avid fan who was. That job is made a lot simpler when the artist in question neatly falls into a category – or genre as we like to say now.
Well I am afraid Rebecca Pronsky goes into the hard category. She does not fill any current “slots” easily. Yes she is very much in the folk vein, but with a backing that moves smoothly between country and rockabilly and then again she becomes a NY (where she hails from) cafe singer/songwriter before moving back into indie folk. So imagine a singer with traces of Joni Mitchell in her songwriting, Nanci Griffith in her delivery and performance style with a trace of Suzanne Vega in her more personal tales. That is the best I can do..and the failure is all mine not hers.
The performance itself was sublime. On stage in layers of cardigan –red & white for the fashion note takers- and thick tights and boots on a freezing cold night, Rebecca was more than ably supported by guitarist and foil Rich Bennett. His playing was a feature of the evening. Sporting a hairstyle that would not look out of place in a Johnny Cash band from the ‘50s, he provided a musical wash over proceedings that slotted perfectly with the imagery of Miss Pronsky’s lyrics. Playing, lead, rhythm, wah wah you name it he could do it.
Then Rebecca herself. She has one of those voices that reaches deep into your soul as she draws you into her world. Her songs which, even she admits, fall into two camps. There are the political finger pointers like Cold Hard Cash or Hard Times here dedicated to Bernie Madoff and “growing up songs” which to me are her strength, such as Better That Way, Best Game In Town and the sublime Day Of The Dead. Another sign of a great artist is to make other peoples songs her own. This Rebecca did to great effect on Lucy Wainwright Roche’s Mercury News and Glenn Tipton by Mark Kozelec from The Red House Painters.
Leaving us with a new song aptly called Snowing Sideways the audience didn’t really care what category she did or didn’t fit into. They knew that that they had just witnessed a wonderful performance.