Elizabeth Cook, Gateshead Town Hall, 14th January 2011
Without any introductions, the New Queen of Country – Elizabeth Cook – wearing a delightful Italian felt fedora, magnificently embroidered Mexican Bolero jacket and impossibly tight jeans stood alongside and floppy haired husband Tim Carroll opened their set with Gonna Be from the BALLS album and followed that with a gut-wrenching version of Girlfriend Tonight from 2010’s WELDER album.
Now visibly relaxed and the mood set; Elizabeth chatted to the large crowd as she introduced the next song; Mama’s Song which had been stripped to the bare bones and a heartbreaking song on cd became a real tearjerker when sung live. When she finished the audience reacted accordingly and nearly raised the already high roof to the sky.
Songs from all four albums came and went interspersed with Elizabeth’s gossipy tales introducing most of them. Two solid years on the road has meant that most songs have evolved from their original recorded format; El Camino became a sexy sultry confessional and Times are Tough in Rock and Roll bounced along much faster than in the past.
After a couple of up-tempo songs Elizabeth told a story about her extra large family back home in Florida before the duo slid seamlessly into Heroin Addict Sister during which you could have heard a pin drop and there was a collective intake of breath before the deafening applause nearly stopped the traffic outside.
At this point Elizabeth began fiddling with a locket hanging around her neck and explained that it was the last Christmas present that her parents had bought her before her mother died three years ago then sang an especially emotional He Got No Heart from the BALLS album.
Regular fans even got a couple of surprises with a Honky Tonk version of I Want to see the Bright Lights (tonight) by Richard and Linda Thompson and Dolly; Did You Go Through This? From the first album which she’d not sung for nearly 10 years.
As usual Tim Carroll got to play a couple of his own songs with Elizabeth accompanying him with some red hot clog dancing.
As the minutes ticked away we got to hear a stomping version of the Louvin Brothers/Gram Parsons Cash on the Barrelhead then, finally the signature song that we’d all been waiting for; (Sometimes) It takes Balls to be a woman which was as rowdy and cool an ending to a gig as I’ve ever heard.
Seeing Elizabeth Cook live should be compulsory for anyone who thinks that they like Country Music fan because Elizabeth Cook really is the real deal!