A few months ago I had the pleasure of reviewing The Handsome Family’s recent album “Unseen” for Outline magazine and for this visit to the Arts Centre I was also in an Outline capacity so I shall link to that review here but also add a few photos and words on Norwichblog too as I am still buzzing from the gig. I was so impressed with the album that I pre-ordered it, a beautiful thing on 180g green vinyl with a signed print. Having that already sitting in my collection I felt justified in taking the opportunity to spend some money on Courtney Marie Andrews’ merch table with a couple of albums (though annoyingly I still somehow managed to overlook a third which was a mere fiver). She came to my attention a few months ago, quite by chance and so fate and synchronicity meant that she was to visit my city with The Handsome Family in something of a dream line up for me. This was her first English date on this visit and even jet-lagged she did not disappoint and performed flawlessly, my regret being that I was not able to see her on one of her own headline shows later in this trip. I do feel blessed though to have heard some of these songs from her fine album “Honest Life” performed in a live setting. This talented artist from Phoenix, AZ has a strong and expressive, quite beautiful voice with the gift of storytelling songwriting giving voice to the lonely travellers and the heartbroken in bars. A real talent and I hope to see her headline the Arts Centre some day. There are hints of Emmylou and Joni but there’s another new name among my favourites. Courtney.
Her album was released here several weeks ago and I’ve been itching to buy it but making do with Spotify in the interim as I wanted to buy it at the gig itself. You can buy the CD here but I’d urge you to get the beautiful lp on 180g turquoise vinyl, if that’s your thing. I am now the proud owner of a signed copy.
I was instantly drawn into The Handsome Family’s world when I first heard them too. They have an immediately identifiable sound which is all their own. Rennie and Brett are a partnership in all respects, Rennie writing the words with Brett the music and his bear-like presence it’s a match made, well, if the dialogue between songs on this occasion is anything to go by, if not Heaven then perhaps a snake pit, with all the references to snakes and Dante’s Inferno. Brett even altered the words in Tiny Tina from ‘horse’ to ‘snake’, to Rennies disapproval and amusement! The dark soundtrack quality of their songs is matched by their wonderful black and dry wit between them with exchanges and loving digs throughout. Both of them suffering with heavy colds they did not let this get in the way of the performance and were in great humour throughout, I noticed the rest of the band in peals of laughter a couple of times too. A wonderful set featuring some of my favourites not just from the new album but from further back too and after giving the crowd a well-earned encore they left the stage arm in arm. A lovely gig.
It was unfortunate that the gig clashed with that taking place at the Guildhall where Grapevine were hosting Lewis & Leigh, a frustrating but welcome problem and this being Norwich: Music City, UK both gigs were sold out on a Tuesday night.
Big thanks to The Handsome Family, Courtney Marie Andrews, Norwich Arts Centre, and Outline. Special mention to the excellent Bill at NAC who was working his penultimate shift but the last one that I would be present at. Thanks Bill and all success for the future!
all rights reserved (c) shashamane 2017