Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Good Lovelies + Ruth Moody Band The Bullingdon, Oxford Thursday 4th July 2013

It may have been July 4th but it was very much an extension of the Canada Day celebrations as the Good Lovelies and Ruth Moody teamed up for this double header at The Bullingdon in Oxford. Both artists were approaching the end of their 2013 UK visits and well established promoters Empty Room Promotions snapped up the opportunity to arrange for them to share the billing only a couple of days prior to their appearance at the Maverick Festival. In true egalitarian style, each act was granted an hour and a quarter for their set and you could have quite easily interchanged the running order and still matched the success of the evening.

Good Lovelies
It is not quite sure whether these artists have shared a bill before but their styles created a perfect dovetail to ensure the reasonably sized audience were able to enjoy a comprehensive serving of Canadian roots music. The vivacious aurora and engaging chemistry of a Good Lovelies live show is a wonderful experience with their radiant personalities emanating a feel good mood around the venues they frequent. Ruth Moody focuses on her strengths and delivers a more intense show with her golden voice and intricate songs left to enthrall audiences. These contrasting styles were witnessed in separate shows last year and while this double header slightly reduced their individual time on stage, the appreciative crowd were clearly the night’s major winners.

Hailing from Toronto, the Good Lovelies are on their third UK visit with the trio of Kerri Ough, Caroline Brooks and Sue Passmore growing their list of admirers each time. Without a new album to promote, as the girls have been rather busy doing other more important personal things, the focus had to be on material from their previous two releases along with some carefully chosen covers. Amongst the highly catchy tunes delivered were ‘Made for Rain’, ‘Free’, ’Crabbukit’ and ‘Kiss Me in the Kitchen’, admittedly all personal favourites from the 2011 LET THE RAIN FALL album.

 By contrast, Winnipeg based Ruth Moody is a seasoned visitor to these shores both as a solo artist and as part of the long established Wailin Jennys. Calling Ruth a solo artist is not strictly true and, as previously, she was joined on this tour by Adam Dobres (guitars), Sam Howard (bass) and Adrian Dolan (assorted strings/accordion). Ruth is also using this tour to promote her excellent new album THESE WILDER THINGS and amongst its many fine songs we were invited to enjoy the delights of ‘Trouble and Woe’ and ‘One Light Shining’. Slightly more tracks were played from her debut solo release THE GARDEN including the classy duet ‘We Can Only Listen’ on which Sam stepped forward to share the vocal duties.

Ruth Moody at the Maverick Festival
Each of the Good Lovelies take turns to address the audience as there is an abundance of cheerful and often humorous stories surrounding their songs. These include the famous t-shirt incident and that the background to ‘Mrs T’ is not our late PM. In a change from seeing the ladies last year, they elected to replace their version of ‘Hallelujah’ which went down a storm in a church setting with an equally impressive performance of the traditional song brought back to life by Johnny Cash, ‘Gods Gonna Cut You Down’. The next best thing to experiencing a Good Lovelies show is listening to their latest live album and as on that recording this Oxford audience were required to help out on the vocals of the stirring final song ‘Lie Down’.

Ruth has been getting extensive coverage of her version of Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’ which appears on the new album. After being slightly sceptical about how this song can be transformed, the live performance of this slowed down back to roots revamped version has ultimately won me over. In addition to this cover, Ruth also played the popular Jennys’ tune ‘Glory Bound’ and paid respect to the traditional song of these shores with an invitation for the audience to join her in singing ‘Bold Riley’.

For the record, the Good Lovelies delivered their set first but the key feature was the opportunity to sample both artists in a single evening at a very modest outlay. The likelihood is that both artists will return to the UK in some format in the future and, whether or not this special evening is re-created, the opportunity to expand your experience of live music will be augmented by getting to know the Good Lovelies and Ruth Moody a little better. 

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