Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin at Sage Gateshead
Monday 15th October
Although Mary Chapin and Shawn are best friends and have played on each others albums for many years, this was the first time that they have actually toured together as a duo without the safety net of a band behind them. For me, it was an intriguing pairing. I am a huge fan of Mary Chapin Carpenter but have never really warmed to Shawn Colvin’s voice and find her songs a tad gloomy, in my humble opinion. So, I was understandably nervous as I made my way into the beautiful Hall 1 of the Sage Music Centre.
Well, my fears were put to rest whenever the two ladies sang a duet, especially if Mary Chapin took the lead. Colvin’s harmonies were exceptional and complemented her partner like a well-worn velvet glove.
In fairness when the roles were reversed there was new glow to Colvin’s songs which I’ll now have to re-visit, especially I’ll Be Back which was slow, personal and incredibly moving tonight.
Obviously both ladies are famous songwriters in their own rights, so their choice of songs for this concert was fascinating, with a fair smattering of cover versions. Among them were Four Seasons in One Day by Crowded House plus Paul Simon’s Only Living Boy in New York and Hold on by Tom Waits all slid in-between songs from both ladies’ latest albums and only a smattering of familiar songs making an appearance.
Of the newer songs, Mary’s Chasing What’s Already Gone, from Ashes and Roses was exceptional when stripped down to two voices and one guitar.
The harmonies and complex guitar playing on This Shirt were spellbinding and their adaptation of Colvin’s Round of Blues had me reconsidering my opinion of the flame-haired singer.
As both singers struggled to keep their guitars in tune all night, they would plug the gap by telling obviously unrehearsed but charming stories that will hopefully get better the more they are told.
The downside, for me, was the amount of (new) solo songs that interspersed the concert. They somehow seemed out of place, especially as they left the other singer sitting on stage simply nodding their heads and tapping their feet.
#following a request from someone senior at Red Line Management I have changed a couple of (apparent) inaccuracies from my original posting; none of which change the integrity of my review; although they were made from my copious notes taken on the evening. AH