Following the heartfelt story of their destined meeting many years ago in Lubbock, Texas, it was no surprise that The Kennedys finally paid tribute to their hero Buddy Holly with the closing track of the pre-encore second set during this evening's gig. However before the New York based duo delivered a storming version of ‘Not Fade Away’ to climax their ‘Eight Miles High’ guitar medley, a sizeable Kitchen Garden Café crowd was treated to an excellent interpretation of Americana music.
The duo of Maura and Peter Kennedy are no strangers in Birmingham due to their association with the shows of Nanci Griffiths, and the Kitchen Garden Café welcomed a few first time visitors who will hopefully return to the venue in the future. Over the duration of two hours, those present enjoyed a comprehensive collection of The Kennedys music, best summed up by the graceful vocals of Maura and the proficient guitar playing of Pete. This included a combination of carefully selected covers and some fine original material, the latter main focussing on the new album CLOSER THAN YOU KNOW.
From this latest release, the duo performed the joyous number ‘Happy Again’, ‘Cradle to a Boat’, ‘I’ll Come Over’ and possibly the best of this quartet aired during the evening, ‘Marina Dream’. Copies of the new album proved popular purchases during the interval as well as last year’s RESTROPECTIVE which is a concise collection of the duo’s finest material. Old favourites such as the requested ‘River of Fallen Stars’ ,the re-collection of that Lubbock meeting many years ago ‘Half a Million Miles’ and Maura’s fantastic Patsy Cline styled ‘Shadows with the Lonely’ were all well received.
As well as their masterly self penned songs, The Kennedys are very keen to celebrate the work of other songwriters to the extent that they issued a whole album of covers SONGS OF THE OPEN ROAD in 2006. That album was represented mainly in the second half when they performed a cracking version of the late Dave Carter’s ‘Gypsy Rose’, a John Stewart song titled ‘Jasmine’ and also adding another notch to the growing 2013 list of Gram Parsons covers with the ever popular ‘Sin City’. The country of their hosts was not forgotten with the traditional song ‘Matty Groves’ getting The Kennedys’ folk treatment and the fab four’s ‘A Day in the Life’ gracing the two song encore segment.
In line with the term ‘Americana’ decorating their promotional leaflet, The Kennedys deliver a truly eclectic brand of music reflecting country, bluegrass, folk, rock and the Bossa Nova style as in the New York inspired number ‘9th St. Billy’. Like so many songs performed during this enchanting evening, an entertaining tale acted as a prelude to its playing. No singer-songwriter show would be complete without these anecdotes, with Pete and Maura’s extensive industry experience providing a fertile source for such added value.
By the time the humble and highly appreciative duo crowned their performance with the thoughtful, all or nothing – multi religion gospel song ‘Stand’, both existing and new Kennedys fans had been treated to an exemplary exhibition of Americana music. Nights like these are precious and the duo left a favourable impression which many present would no doubt like to re-live in the not too distant future.