Courtney

GIG REVIEW: Courtney Marie Andrews @ Gorilla

Courtney Marie Andrews arrived in Manchester for the latest date on her UK tour with a wave of anticipation behind her. This past few months alone have seen her awarded with “International Artist Of The Year” at the UK Americana Awards, and last month she released her latest LP ‘May Your Kindness Remain‘ which was received to universal acclaim, charting at #1 on the Euro Americana charts. This follows on from a whirlwind 2017 for Andrews releasing her stellar musical piece, ‘Honest Life’, an album that significantly boosted her international profile as well as winning over many new fans (myself included).

Supports

First onto the stage at an almost sold out Gorilla is fellow country folk singer Twain. He brings a very intense and intimate sound to his set, very much akin to Jeff Buckley. Twain’s interactions with the crowd are shy and sparse, regardless his set is received by an attentive bunch. Twain’s music is natural bedmates to Andrew’s Country stylings, with his latest album “Rare Feeling”, is out now via BB*ISLAND – I recommend a listen!

This level of attention carries over onto the main set when Courtney and her band arrive – the crowd is captivated into silence from the first number, a brooding moody stomp through her latest albums final number ‘Long Way Back To You’. From there on in the band are in full flow, barely pausing for the next hour and a half, ploughing through the majority of her past two albums with a few lesser known tracks thrown in for good measure.

A Full Band Performance With one of Folk Rocks Most Delicate Songstresses

The band are clearly tight-knit and perform like a well-oiled machine. As Courtney mentions, the group of talented musicians have been performing together for several years, and this relaxed camaraderie is evident throughout. However, it’s Courtney that is the main attraction tonight, and her soaring vocals are the true highlight here – they pull the whole performance together and leave for some truly awe-inspiring moments. Her voice is pitch-perfect from the first note until last, showing off Andrew’s impressive and expansive range. Despite this, her unmistakable country twang shines through and adds real texture and distinct character to each and every song.

One of the key things that makes Courtney’s music so interesting is the genuine sincerity in her lyrics that really strikes a chord. Despite her lyrics predominantly focusing on the melancholy, there’s an overall optimism in the delivery that translates into a very inspirational feeling.

Despite the amazing experience created this evening, there were a few tiny niggling letdowns. Given her clear confidence as a performer, Courtney comes across as very shy when addressing the crowd. Some more interaction with the audience would have been interesting. The times where she pauses to give background and insight into the next song really lends them an added impact. One other minor gripe and this is digging for faults really, is that each song has been tailored to involve the full band playing – at times this works to help flesh out and amplify certain numbers, but at others it has the tendency to take away from the stripped back intimacy that’s evident in the song.

As mentioned, the majority of the set is derived from her past two albums, the most recent material, in particular, is well received, especially her latest single ‘Took You Up’. Most notably the title track from the new record ‘May Your Kindness Remain’,  closes the main set, moving the audience. Closing to thunderous applause, the whole band clearly quite moved by Manchester’s passionate response to their showcase of talent.

They return for a brief encore, playing an amped up version of ‘Irene’, one of the highlights from ‘Honest Life’. They also bring Twain back on stage for one final number, covering Little Feat’s ‘Willin’. Every Band member taking over lead vocals for a portion of the song.

One of the finest and most passionate voices of her generation, Courtney justified the hype this evening. Her UK tour rounds up at London’s Islington Assembly Hall this week.

Courtney returns to the U.K later on in August for the following dates:

16th – Green Man Festival, Wales

19th – Little Rabbit Barn, Colchester

20th – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham

21st – Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich

22nd – Talking Heads, Southampton

The new album, May Your Kindness Remain, is available now via Loose Records and is one of the finest records you’ll hear this year. You can see what I had to say about it here.

 

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