The Stray Birds – The Cluny 2 (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK – January 30, 2014)
That would be my review if I only had a single word. But as seeing as I have more space…here I go.
My second Jumpin’ Hot Club show in a week and it was so fantastic that even having a pint of beer dropped from the balcony just behind my chair couldn’t dampen my spirits.
Opening the show was The Black Feathers who I saw last week at the Old Cinema Launderette in Durham. They were just as awesome here as they were there, although I will admit I love seeing people perform without the aid of microphones and amps. Tonight they were plugged in but their songs were still great and their vocals soared. They even gave a nice shout-out and recommendation for the Launderette Sessions.
The Stray Birds are, on paper, the perfect band for me. Beautiful male and female vocals, multi-instrumentalists, great playing, and a variety of gorgeous instruments – guitars, resonator, fiddles, mandolin, banjo and double bass. Thankfully, the theory translated to reality as the band, their performance and their playing – folk, country, blues, bluegrass, gospel – was just amazing. I haven’t been this blown away for a while. Even the way they perform, huddled around a single microphone seems to make the intimacy of their songs seem even more intimate.
They played tunes from all 3 of their releases – ‘Borderland’, ‘The Stray Birds’ and recently-released covers EP ‘Echo Sessions’. They played great versions of Townes van Zandt’s ‘Loretta’ and Jimmie Rodgers’ ‘Blue Yodel #7’, but it was their original songs I particularly loved.
My favourite was ‘My Brother’s Hill’, about the Appalachian tradition of being buried with your family members on your land. Passionately played and sung I was genuinely moved during the performance. There’s a great FolkAlley.com video on YouTube. I also liked ‘Dream In Blue’, ’25 to Life’, ‘Wildflower Honey’ and fiddle tunes ‘Give That Wildman a Knife/ Bellows Falls/ Waitin’ On a Hannah’, though to be honest, every song was great.
A new album is due out this year and I’m looking forward to it and, hopefully, future live shows.