“Nothing fills my heart more than knowing my home loves me dearly” an emotional Brandy Clark told the crowd at Seattle’s Tractor Tavern at the end of her sold out show there last Monday, and indeed there was love in abundance and deserved appreciation for this Washington native from the nearby ( in American terms!) town of Morton throughout this concert. With its population of just 900 ( around twice the venue’s capacity) her hometown has famously provided the inspiration for much of her writing, including of course the title track to her latest album, ” Big Day in a Small Town” and the majority of the audience seemed to be connected to Morton and/or Brandy in some way, resulting in a real party atmosphere the entire evening, with particularly huge cheers going out with every mention of Morton during the set.
Brandy got the show underway with the ever popular “Stripes” and everyone was singing along and dancing ( as much as possible in the confined space!) from the start, a marked contrast from the hushed reverence at some of her UK shows I’ve attended
With such a punishing schedule I don’t know how Brandy manages to keep in such good vocal shape, but somehow she does and this concert was no exception, whether on the more amusing, upbeat songs or the slower heart wrenching ballads.
This tour has seen Brandy and her trusty and talented lead guitar player Miles Aubrey joined by bass player Vanessa McGowan, who has really brought a new dimension to the mix not only with her playing ( she alternates between guitar and upright bass which she sometimes bows, sometimes plucks) but with her upper range harmonies. With Miles’ lower harmonies and his ability to switch to keyboard this combination provided a lot of scope for variety in the arrangements, something I loved.
The set was a mix of songs from both Brandy’s albums ( none of the many cuts she’s had by other artists making the list on this occasion) with the addition of one new song, ” You’re Drunk” which Brandy introduced in her own amusing way by saying ” I’m sure we’ve all had someone we’ve liked a little more than we should do when we’re drunk, and vice versa, well that’s what this one’s about!” It’s a really fun song with a jazzy/blues vibe, so something a bit different sonically, about wanting to put a stop to regularly getting visits in the early hours when the other party is drunk and has been dumped ….” this thing we got’s become so damn dysfunctional, you only seem to want me when you’re drunk as a skunk” ……” every time you end up all alone it’s on”. Hopefully this will make it to the album of drinking songs Brandy talks about recording, somehow or other it needs to be heard by more people for sure!
Opening on this tour has been the incredibly talented Charlie Worsham ( who described himself and Brandy as the two most underrated badasses of country music!), he played a really impressive set using a loop pedal to great effect to and even changing guitar mid song at one point! As well as his own material a popular inclusion at this gig was a cover of local band Nirvana’s ” Smells Like Teen Spirit” where he cleverly changed the odd lyric to make it more country relevant. Like Brandy he has great love and respect for traditional country music, and has been joining her on stage for a few numbers mid way through her set, when they take it in turns to sing country covers with a different theme each time.
On Monday he announced the theme was to be “songs Brandy’s Mom likes” as she was in the audience, and started the section off by playing Marty Robbins’ ” Devil Woman” after which Brandy said ” I chose that one, I love this theme!” and treated us to her beautiful version of ” Blue Bayou”. Roger Miller’s ” Chug-a-Lug”, together with its multiple key changes, was Charlie’s next contribution after which he said ” I like a momma who likes a drinking song!” and then he and Brandy joined forces to sing her mother’s favourite Brandy composition “Broke”
which saw Charlie and Miles sharing guitar solos and jamming together at the end totally brilliantly.
Ever down to earth, Brandy got to the end of the set and said ” I was going off stage now but we’ve all been standing way too long already and I’m not wearing shoes designed for standing in so I’ll play my encore straight away” and with Miles on keys gave us a stunning rendition of ” You Can Come Over” before the fabulous show ended with everyone joining in on ” Pray to Jesus”.
As a U.K. fan it was a privilege to be among Brandy’s friends and family at this truly special evening, and of course I can’t wait for her tour over here later this year, all her dates ( including a few more with Charlie, plus Canadian dates with Miranda Lambert) can be found here http://www.brandyclarkmusic.com/tour.
Review written by Lesley Hastings