Gretchen Peters – Paradiso, Amsterdam – 28 March 2013
For a lot of reasons, the biggest being on the wrong continent, this was the only show of Gretchen Peters’ European Tour I was able to make. Even this modest achievement was almost scotched due to some miscommunication by the venue on show times but thanks to an attentive headliner and twitter disaster was averted.
Making up the band for the tour are Barry Walsh (keyboards, glockenspiel, accordion) and Christine Bougie (electric guitar, lap steel, drum) who provided support on last year’s Spring Tour here to promote then new Hello Cruel World. Perhaps because the set-list is less fixed or maybe as they’ve become more familiar with and explored one another’s playing the combination is both looser and tighter than in 2012.
Gretchen kicked off the night with Woman On The Wheel (from HCW) which is also the name for the current tour and the title of the newly released live CD/DVD/book available from the merch stand afterwards. Then into crowd favourite Sunday Morning; she calls it her one happy song.
Highlights and surprises included:
Guadalupe – sublime as ever with Barry’s accordion underpinning Tom Russell’s Border lyric
England Blues – her re-write of Six Days On The Road for a European audience complete with a verse for Amsterdam
Independence Day – solo at the piano. Gretchen said she’d rotated it out for a while and reworked it to bring it back. I’d say it’s more like she reclaimed it and the sparse arrangement coupled with the strong vocal really bring out the defiance and the resilience which is the cornerstone of the song.
Return of the Grievous Angel – not such a surprise as they’d been performing it in the UK with Ben Glover taking Gram’s part (see video here) , but this time Gretchen took the lead herself with Barry channelling Emmylou as well as Glen Hardin.
Five Minutes – was a classic the first time I heard her perform it as a brand new tune in 2011. It gets better. And brings celebrity endorsements.
Idlewild – along with Five Minutes and Camille the Big Tune of the last record. You can smell the leaded petrol in her parents’ car. Christine Bougie does an excellent job on the lap steel – it’s a tricky guitar part.
The main set closes with a raucous take on To Say Goodbye with the band rocking out.
Breakfast At Our House – which really puts the dark in depression – is the feelgood choice for first encore (it’s a painfully acutely observed lyric). And then it’s a singalong Wild Horses and off to the merch table. Catch them when you can.