Gretchen Peters Review – The Sage Gateshead 1 March 2012
The Sage Gateshead
1st March 2012
Gretchen Peters returned to Gateshead’s Sage on the back of a critically acclaimed new album Hello Cruel World – currently top ten in the Americana charts-, being a much sought after contributor to the albums of her peers (Tom Russell most recently) and being feted by Bob Harris on BBC Radio 2.
It was standing room only in the Hall 2 as the show started with the appearance of Gretchen’s pianist, accordionist and new husband Barry Walsh who took his place at the ivory keys whilst the very smartly be-suited multi instrumentalist Christine Bougie sat gently strumming a guitar until, with warm applause, Gretchen took centre stage.
Kicking off with the title track of the new album Gretchen took the always appreciative and supportive audience on a trip through the full album, something she warned she would do after completing the second track St Francis(co-written with Tom Russell). This is always a risky strategy which only works if the material on the album is strong enough and, most importantly, the audience is willing to take that ride with you. Well Gretchen must know her audience because they were entranced throughout.
This album has some powerful songs including, for me, the strongest of the collection Five Minutes which is a simple tale of a waitress thinking of her lifetime in that five minute smoking break. Gretchen admitted she nearly left it off the album which she (and I!) agreed would have been some mistake. But her performances of Idlewind and the circus song Woman On The Wheel also stood out.
With a beautiful soaring voice containing just enough pain and heartache from over twenty years on the road and backing from two virtuoso musicians this was an excellent show. Especially seeing as it was the first show of a thirty date tour. Gretchen definitely related to this audience which held many “frequent returners” I guess!
Finishing off the show with songs from her back catalogue To Say Goodbye, a terrific On A Bus To St Cloud and a rough but heartfelt Last Train Clarksville for the late Davy Jones the show finally ended and the audience rose as one to acclaim a great songwriter and performer.
Credit due as well to Lynne Hanson a Canadian singer/songwriter who showed great potential as support and is a name to keep an eye out for.
This review originally appeared in The Sunday Sun Newspaper