Kathleen Edwards with Jim Bryson & Gord Tough, live in London
I’m really pleased to see Kathleen’s LP Voyageur featuring in plenty of people’s Top 10s for 2012. It’s my joint number 1 with The Mastersons to save anyone looking.
She’s just played two nights in London at Bush Hall in Shepherds Bush. I was there, last night, for the second of them.
She opened with Asking For Flowers and performed it with rage rather than the sense of resignation that pervades the original version and it is utterly riveting. Kathleen, with her hair wildly flowing behind her looked more pre-Raphaelite than ever, but here she was coming over like a method actor!
This intense mood continued through Empty Threat and Chameleon/Comedian, but isn’t sustained into House Full Of Empty Rooms. The song is instead rearranged to fit the trio format and this new version is eerily beautiful.
Sidemen Jim & Gord provide empathetic support throughout; Gord’s guitar solo on Going To Hell is a real standout memory, but he was outstanding all night. Jim just seems to be her perfect foil – you can understand why she wrote I Make The Dough You Get The Glory for and about him. He’s a low key star.
The set draws mainly from Voyageur but covers all her albums. Other set highlights include Change The Sheets and an incendiary In State which was part of the first encore. There are also 3 new songs; one (Back From the Dead?) she says she wrongly left off Voyageur when many people told her she had to include it; another titled Football’s In The Grass was performed solo and off stage on the grand piano at the rear of the hall.
It’s here at the other end of the hall that the second part of the encore takes place. Kathleen calls us to gather round. Jim plays piano while she and Gord play acoustics. We get treated to a beautifully intimate version of Mercury followed by a curfew busting, fun loaded Sidecars. A magical, cake-icing end to a great evening’s music.
If the intensity of the first three songs could have lasted through the night I think I would, without doubt, have witnessed the best gig I’d ever seen. As it is I’ve seen some great performances by female artists this year. Kathleen herself earlier in the year on my birthday, Gretchen Peters, Shelby Lynne, Suzy Bogguss, Tift Merritt and Matraca Berg have all thrilled, excited and moved me, but the best of the year was (probably) the last of the year. She was simply magnificent.