Monday, 7 September 2015

Hayes Carll - The Glee Club, Birningham. Saturday 5th September 2015

Wait number one was over as Hayes Carll returned to Birmingham to play the same venue that he graced seven years ago; Wait number two is almost over as Hayes announced the imminent arrival of his follow up record to the 2011 release KMAG YOYO (& OTHER AMERICAN STORIES). So for this loyal base of Hayes Carll fans, it was a win-win situation and almost a déjà vu moment as the striking Texan strode onto stage to open the set with his premium song ‘Beaumont’.

To continue the 2008 link, Hayes was accompanied by his long term travelling companion Travis Linville who opened the gig with a short set of good songs mainly self-penned. Although the memory of Travis playing alongside Hayes last time was a touch hazy, there was no such mistaking his contribution this time with a stylish bout of slide induced twang adding an extra dimension to the much loved and familiar songs of his sidekick. The enhancement was further complete with the additional rhythm section courtesy of percussion by Mike Meadows. The trio thoroughly entertained this Glee Club gathering not too inconvenienced by sharing the venue’s entrance with the usual Saturday night comedy throngs.

Since 2008, Hayes has been back to these shores a handful of times, most notably to play Cambridge Folk Festival and a couple of London dates last September. In the meantime, it was a pleasure to catch him live at Calgary Folk Festival in 2013 and keep in touch with an artist who first leapt to prominence over here with the LITTLE ROCK album almost a decade ago now. The title track, and the opening number from this album ‘Wish I Hadn’t Stayed So Long’, actually the first Hayes song heard, are still integral parts of the set list, which was joined this evening by a few tunes set to be the recorded songs of the future. ‘One Bed, Two Girls, Three Bottles of Wine’ is another serving of classic Hayes Carll humour and proved the pick of the newbies this evening.

Of course the classic tongue in cheek Hayes song is ‘She Left Me For Jesus’ and not surprisingly it made the encore after a segment of requested songs. While having an obvious link with this old favourite, a new song titled ‘Jesus and Elvis, co-written with Allison Moorer and Matraca Berg, is a lot more serious and reflected the depth of sincerity that permeates Hayes’ writing. ‘Drunken Poet’s Dream’, ‘Faulkner Street’ and ‘I Got a Gig’ are exemplars of his lyrical prowess, while another new song this time with family connections, ‘The Magic Kid’, represented the more heartfelt side to his song writing.

The sparkling sound from the trio took this show to greater heights than your usual travelling troubadour and the opportunity to raise the tempo was no finer than a storming version of ‘Stomp and Holler’ as the show neared its climax. The input of Mike and Travis could not be underestimated especially when you throw in the latter’s opening set. Travis was also having a good run in selling his ‘name your price’ CDs and although not actually one of his compositions, the excellent song ‘Lefty’ from his SUN OR MOON EP was the pick of the bunch. This was an excellent amalgam of baseball and country music.

Hayes Carll is definitely one of the more countrified members of the contemporary Americana singer-songwriter scene and his distinctive vocal style makes every song an aural event. Hopefully the wait for his next visit to the provinces is not the proverbial ‘itch’ and to conclude a theme to the evening as well, the demographic is slightly changing in a downward direction. Hayes Carll is too good not to look after his UK fans on a regular basis and this Glee Club faithful will be there to snap up the new album if a return materialises.

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