Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton The Lexington, Islington, London
If the standard of live music for the year to come is indicated by the first gig then 2017 is going to be very special indeed.
Jolie Holland and Samantha Parton, founders of the Be Good Tanyas, got back together musically last year playing shows in North America. Since her time with the Tanyas, Ms Holland has had a successful (artistically phenomenally so) solo career, while Samantha P has been out of performing end of the business for several years – she suffered two bad car accidents and had her own radio show.
They’re recording a new album and exposed one song from it – Make It Up To Me – on Cerys’ Matthews BBC6Music radio show (link here : http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b088nf5q) the previous Sunday.
They’re doing a short European tour together with their band’s guitar player, Stevie Weinstein-Foner. The London show was at the Lexington, which holds around 200 and was sold out shortly after tickets went on sale in November.
The trio took the stage just after 9:00pm and opened the set with the Be Good Tanyas’ take on The Lakes Of Pontchartrain. Jolie took the lead vocal but when Sam joined her on the “If it weren’t for the alligators” line I felt the hairs prickle on the back of my neck. Jolie switched between guitar and box fiddle as well as providing a couple of whistling solos, while Sam played guitars and mandolin. Weinstein-Foner played twangy electric guitar all night with the occasional harmony vocal
The set touched on the Tanyas’ catalogue – Littlest Birds was excellent, covers (including Townes’ You Are Not Needed Now and Waiting Around To Die) and tracks from their forthcoming record including Make It Up To Me, Jolie’s reworking of Dylan’s Minstrel Boy, and Last Crazy Person.
The set closed with a vintage Oh Susannah with all three musicians taking turns at a verse. Jolie Holland had said she was going to crowd surf to the merch table after that but instead they came out and encored with a mighty version of Jolie’s Mexican Blue with Ms Parton adding some fine mandolin.
If that wasn’t enough we learned they’re back in the Autumn with the full band to play a show in London (likely Union Chapel).
For an idea of how they sound this is from Santa Monica last summer.