Courtney Marie Andrews Bush Hall, London, 4th Sept 2017 – Lesley Hastings

This was a concert I’d been eagerly anticipating for some time, having caught Courtney’s acoustic show at The Social in March. Her vocals were definitely the highlight of that evening, effortlessly soaring and perfectly conveying the emotions behind her lyrics. While over here in the Spring she also made an appearance on the prestigious “Later With Jools Holland” television show which I am sure helped raise her profile enormously, with this concert selling out and a second being added the following evening..

This time round it was a full band show (she was joined by several of the musicians who played on her albums) and wow, did they put on a fantastic 90 minute set! The lack of pedal steel was a slight personal disappointment initially, her player of choice here, BJ Cole being unavailable, but that soon passed as things got underway and it was interesting to hear familiar tracks from her last release, “Honest Life” with a rockier interpretation. A particular shout out to her lead guitar player, Dillon Warnek who’s solos throughout the evening were wonderful. Once again, vocally Courtney was incredible, there were no backing singers and none were needed, the only other female vocalist I have been this impressed with live recently is Margo Price . Both these ladies put their heart and soul into their shows and aren’t afraid to let rip but equally have the ability to reign things in on the more tender numbers. Sipping from a plastic pint cup of gin and tonic throughout the set (gin is in my rider now she told us, so is tonic but we don’t always get that!) Courtney joked about how the temperature at the venue had totally melted the ice, and that it was so hot that it felt like she was back home!

As mentioned, there was a good representation from “Honest Life” with “How Quickly Your Heart Mends”, “Not The End”,  “Rookie Dreaming” and “Table For One” particularly well received, and “15 Highway Lines” cleverly and seamlessly segued into “Irene” at the end of the set.  Her latest single, “Near You”  written several years back came across really well, she switched from acoustic guitar to her lovely vintage Gibson electric for this soulful ballad.

Mid set the band left the stage, and I was thrilled to hear Courtney perform stripped back versions of my two favourites from her 2013 album “On My Page”  (just reissued on vinyl by Loose Music) “ Woman of Many Colors” (inspired by her mother, beautiful picking on this one!) and “ Paintings from Michael” (for her uncle) which she played on keys …..something she told us she has only recently had the confidence to do live.

But I was particularly interested to hear a lot of new material showcased throughout the evening, and on the basis of what was played I can’t wait for the next Courtney Marie Album, which will be recorded immediately after this tour (there’s a few European dates in the next week or so before she heads back home and into the studio) . “Rough Around The Edges” in particular caught my attention, an apology song to a lover it seems with lyrics including “the past was cruel and it caught up with me” and “If I let you down babe don’t take it to heart” and I also loved the haunting “ Kindness of Strangers” in which she sang “people come and people go, the ones that stick around are the hardest to find” … true!! The gentrification of American cities and neighbourhoods being destroyed inspired another of the new offerings, and there was one she told us she wrote in a truck stop in Massachusetts just after election day for women who feel objectified (possibly called Heart of Mine?) in which she sang “when you feel weak, your power is in your heart and your mind”. Some upbeat songs, some ballads, with her diverse musical inspirations evident, her next album is definitely something I’m impatient to hear!

It’s been four years since Courtney last appeared on the stage at Bush Hall, as support artist while she was back-packing around Europe, and that show resulted in her getting a booking agent…… “a full circle story” she told us…..and what an amazing four years it has been for this wonderfully talented and incredibly hardworking singer/songwriter! Telling us how grateful she is for the support she’s received here in the UK and promising to return soon, she took time to speak to her fans at the merch table and I’m sure I’m not the only one who will remember this evening for a long time to come.

Review written by Lesley Hastings


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