Mary Chapin Carpenter

Mary Chapin Carpenter since COME ON, COME ON in the mid 90s, when her songs were fresh and never less than interesting; I’ve bought all of her albums, including the last three, which have been a lot more downbeat than those earlier recordings. They have been a lot harder to love and very few songs have borne out repeated plays.

I take no pride in not liking or understanding classical music, but when you witness musicians as wonderful as the Royal Northern Sinfonia Orchestra perform something like the (suitefrom)

To Kill a Mockingbird ‘in the flesh’ it is genuinely breath-taking and impressive (although a catchier tune may have been a better choice with hindsight).

As the applause for the orchestra filled the Hall Mary Chapin Carpenter and three of her regular band mates made their appearance from stage left; which brought longer and even louder applause from her loyal fans.

Wearing a beautiful black dress Mary opened her part of the concert with a delightfully melancholic version of Chastity Brown

After being left thunderstruck last year when discovered Chastity Brown I was genuinely excited at seeing her again in the atmospheric and more intimate venue; Cluny II.

Social media had been awash with mentions of the concert during the previous week; so I was disappointed to count 27 heads in the hall for support act Little Mo Scott, who entertained us with a wide range of material from Son House through Nina Simone and the Neville Brothers.

Dressed in ‘double denim’ Chastity looked a little nervous as she thanked promoter Graham Anderson for taking a risk two years previously by giving her the the opportunity to play in England for the first time; which I thought was a humbling and thoughtful touch.

The set was then opened with Devon Gray delicately playing the piano before Chastity eased into the wonderful solely only to stop halfway through when she realised that she’d mixed up the second and third verses. Looking embarrassed but still smiling; the singer began again and the result was simply beautiful.

Sadly I can’t give you the name of the next song, which is from her next album as titles were in short supply. But I can tell you it was pretty damn cool and had a funky guitar solo towards the end.

Compared to the back porch sunny evening’ songs on BACK-ROAD HIGHWAY, the new songs; some still being tweaked in concert; are much grittier and quite urban in character, but still oozing quality from every pore.

The new single Colorado was by far the best of all the new songs with a passionate chorus to die for and while Devon Gray stylishly accompanied Ms. Brown on the electric piano he had also attached a mini-tambourine to his shoe adding timpani too!

One song that stood out the last time I saw the singer play live was Man And A Cun which didn’t appear on the album and tonight’s version was so stark and simple it set the hair on the back of my hair on end.

Mary Chapin Carpenter

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