Friday, 6 June 2014

A magical evening


 Firstly, a quick bit of news on the writing front: I have had a poem published in Ink, Sweat and Tears! It's a great honour.

 Now to the real purpose of this post which is to tell you about the concert I attended in Southport on Wednesday night. You may remember I went to a Southport gig last September, and in many ways this one was similar, yet it was also completely different.

 The venue was The Atkinson; the show was Nanci Griffith tribute show Trouble in the Fields, starring Pete and Maura Kennedy and Edwina Hayes - so far, so similar to September's show. However, this evening we also had the great pleasure of the company of Grateful Fred's House Band - Grateful Fred's also organised the evening.


 My mother and I arrived in Southport by train and spent an interesting while searching for the venue - last time we came by car and it was a labyrinth reaching it from the station! However, we eventually found the beautiful place with its lovely fountains out the front, and climbed the stairs to the Studio.

 This was where the show last year was, and I was glad they were there again as it is a nice, cosy little space; very nicely lit and with a real ambience.


 The show opened with a set from Grateful Fred's House Band which I greatly enjoyed. Their haunting rendition of Ride On was certainly my highlight; it was sublime, especially the guitar work.


 The Kennedys then came on stage (and Maura very nicely gave me a shout-out) to play a short set of their own songs. I was pleased to hear Midnight Ghost, one of my favourites, as well as some brilliant-as-always guitar and uke work from Pete.


 After a short break, the Kennedys returned for the Nanci Griffith tribute set, and after several songs were joined by Edwina Hayes.

 Having two such stunning voices as Edwina's and Maura's on the same stage was always going to be very special, and they also work incredibly well together - they harmonise beautifully.

 The trio just worked so well, and I am glad someone had the idea of them performing together - it really is something incredible that feels like it was destined to happen.

 Every song was a joy, but if I had to choose a few highlights, I would have to include Gulf Coast Highway, which I had been really hoping they would do because I adored it in September. I love the original song but the Kennedys' version may well top that for me.

 Also especially memorable were their versions of Lone Star State of Mind, Late Night Grand Hotel and I'm Not Driving These Wheels.

 Finally, I was very moved by A Light Beyond These Woods, a song which is special to me and to which they truly did justice, and Across the Great Divide, which I cannot hear and see the Kennedys perform without remembering them doing so twenty years ago with Nanci on Jools Holland.

 It is so lovely how the song has stayed around for twenty years, and has continued touching hearts. I have no doubt it will be around for another twenty.


 The show ended with Grateful Fred's House Band joining the trio on stage and everyone playing together, and it was a truly wonderful, joyful and memorable spectacle. They worked brilliantly together - their version of Full Circle made a fabulous finale.


 After the show I ran into Edwina who was absolutely lovely and then I had nice chats with both Kennedys. 

 I have mentioned many times before how down-to-earth and friendly Pete and Maura are, but I feel I should mention it again. It is very rarely that you come across two people who are so successful and popular, yet are willing to chat and laugh and mingle with their fans - who are not just willing, in fact, but seem to take huge pleasure in doing so.

 I came away with Edwina's album Pour Me a Drink, featuring Feels Like Home, a song with great emotional significance for me, as well as the Kennedys' Dance a Little Closer: a live album of them performing Nanci songs. I hope to post reviews of both on this blog in due course.

 As my mother and I rushed to the train station through the dark night with its light, misty rain and cool wind, I felt very, very happy - and I felt even more so when, sitting on the train, I discovered the lovely things the Kennedys and Edwina had written on my signed albums.


 Thank you to everyone involved in this night, it really was a night in a million.

 Thanks for reading,

 Liz x

 PS. If you like the Kennedys or want to learn more about them, I have done an interview with them, an album review and a write-up of a show of their own songs they did in the UK last June.

Song: Across the Great Divide - Nanci Griffith - 1993

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