Live Review | The Duchess, York | Review by Allan Wilkinson
I bumped into Angie Palmer outside The Duchess just as dusk approached on a relatively warm York evening, just as the singer-songwriter was making her way down to the neighbouring Fibbers nightclub, where another gig was about to commence. “Hope you’re not escaping to another gig” I said as she walked towards me with her companion. “No, we’re just going to see some friends before they go on, Wreckless Eric’s on downstairs tonight”. This may be the reason behind my recent rant on why everyone seems to disappear in York whenever anyone of importance is playing. Perhaps there’s just too much going on at the same time and choices have to be made! Angie delayed her visit ‘downstairs’ to speak to me for ten minutes whilst the sound of the two support bands filtered throughout the darkened corridors of The Duchess during their respective sound checks. The Lancaster born singer-songwriter was seemingly relaxed before the gig, wearing tight denim jeans and black waistcoat, as any self-respecting rock chick should, as we sat and discussed everything from Dylan and Debussy to travelling through Europe, playing with a superb bunch of musicians collectively known as The Revelators and most importantly, her current album Meanwhile, As Night Falls. Later, after two excellent support spots by Suzy Bradley and the Morning After and the fabulously tight Jen Low Band, Angie Palmer walked onto stage with an acoustic guitar, a bunch of well-crafted and easily assessable songs and was flanked by an ensemble of excellent players, all completely in tune with every single move their leader made. Opening with three consecutive songs from her current album, the Alan Gregson (Cornershop) produced Meanwhile, As Night Falls, Angie soon fell into a relaxed groove during “On the Eve”, “The Fiery Lake” and “After the Lights Have Gone”, all pretty much exactly how they appear on the album. For the delightful “After the Lights Have Gone”, Angie urged the audience to pull up some comfortable chairs and come a little closer. A true artist knows instinctively how to make the best out of a not so good situation. If the room isn’t bursting at the seams, then draw the small audience in, come a little closer, let’s get intimate. The atmosphere was intimate and the audience did indeed move closer to the band, which consisted of birthday boy Billy Buckley on guitars, Richard Curran on fiddle and mandolin, Ollie Collins on bass and Sophie Hasting on drums. Revisiting her two previous albums Road (2005) and Tales Of Light and Darkness (2006), with the hard rocking “Fishtails” and the equally powerful “Footprints in the Snow” from the former and the funky “Letters From Home” and “Fool’s Gold” and finally a song which Angie referred to as a ‘rarity’, the love song Michelangelo from the latter, Angie demonstrated a good cross section of songs from her most important period. Two more songs from the new album were selected for the set including the Johnny Cash inspired rocker “I Hear That Locomotive”, which Angie invited the audience to provide suitable train sounds, which to a York audience shouldn’t be too difficult. Then the adult version of “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Hunting the Wolf”, introduced in French, produced one of the highlights of the night both in terms of tightness of arrangement, including Billy Buckley’s astonishing sneer of a guitar solo, and in tension building, courtesy of Ollie Collins’ bowed bass and Richard Curran’s demonic fiddle playing. One of the songs I was most looking forward to hearing live and one that was more than satisfactorily realised tonight. The final song, which really couldn’t be followed by an encore, was the magnificent “Weeping Wood”, the song that concludes the new album. I knew it was coming as Angie had told me in advance of the gig that she would be performing it. “But can you possibly give it the full whack?” I asked before the show. “We’ll give it as much welly as we can but obviously we can’t bring the full string section, or an organ or a large gong”, Angie cheerfully responded. Judging by the satisfied expression on the faces of each and every member of the audience tonight, I think it was just right.