It was to the very intimate venue of Taylor John’s House in Coventry last night (stupidly without my camera, so the above is nicked for artistic merit and aesthetic pleasure and nothing else) to see Caitlin Rose and MM faves Deer Tick play the latest leg of their short UK tour. Holding barely more than 100 people and feeling more like a front room dropped into a basement than anything else, the setting was perfect for the show.
First up were local boys Shackletons playing a thoroughly enjoyable brand of country rock and folk imbued with a local humour and much ribbing of the drummer.
Having missed Caitlin Rose at the End of the Road Festival (see our review here), I was keen to see if Barry-Sean’s enthusiasm was well founded or not. I needn’t have worried, playing a solo set without fuss or bother, but with plenty of humorous chat and tales of her childhood, she engaged, entranced and soon had a rapt audience hanging on every word and every note of her acoustic guitar. And what a voice, a thing of pure, clear, unadulterated beauty, which gives her a stage presence that belies her diminutive size. Playing songs from her hugely acclaimed album Own Side Now as well as from the Dead Flowers EP, she effortlessly calls to mind the spirit of Hank and the other traditional country greats. Lyrically smart, with bittersweet and occasionally acidic undertones, highlights were recent single Shanghai Cigarettes, Learnin’ To Ride, Shotgun Wedding and the outstanding New York.
By contrast Deer Tick come across as noisy, bar-room fuelled upstarts – delivering their blend of boozy, bluesy country rock with an easy nonchalance and swaggering confidence borne of the knowledge that, three albums in, they have a back catalogue to win over all but the most cynical of observers. Opening with Choir of Angels, the noise levels were up at 11, and the mood was well and truly set. Live Deer Tick ooze passion, belief and power, interspersing everything with laconic good humour between sonic standouts that included Smith Hill, Ashamed, Baltimore Blues, a revved up Spend The Night, and paint-peeling set closer Mange.
Deer Tick will probably never receive the acclaim they and their songwriting deserve in the UK, but without doubt, they are one of the most powerful, absorbing and downright enjoyable live performances we have seen this year.
Download Caitlin Rose – Shotgun Wedding mp3 (from Dead Flowers EP)
Download Deer Tick – Twenty Miles mp3 (from The Black Dirt Sessions)
Download Deer Tick – Piece By Piece And Frame By Frame mp3 (from The Black Dirt Sessions)