Saturday, 29 April 2017

Lynne Hanson and the Good Intentions - St. George's Hall, Bewdley. Friday 28th April 2017

It can be a turbulent life being a travelling musician; one unimaginable for us folks who lay our pound down and sit back with expectation. The highs and lows of pursuing a creative calling were the themes core to this Lynne Hanson show and in particular it was the former that reigned supreme on this Bewdley return. The determination to share those lofty high emotions was etched in Lynne’s performance as this Canadian artist, and her travelling compatriots The Good Intentions, poured every joule of energy in presenting a very personal view of life though the medium of song and sound.

The success of these Music in the Hall evenings at Bewdley’s St George’s Hall is becoming a given from a customer perspective, although the promotion know there’s no let up on the preparation. It was last July when Lynne created such a special impression at this venue and the honour of the being the first overseas’ returnee was not lost on the guest. This time she was in possession of a brand new album which unsurprisingly featured high in a set list that was superbly executed with an undulating spread of pace, style and mood. UNEVEN GROUND has in fact only been released a couple of weeks and it didn’t take too long upon reflection to grab the sentiment of these new songs straight after first listen.

There was a contrast in how these new songs unravelled, beginning with the opening two tracks – ‘Carry Me Home’ and ‘Counting Heartbeats’ – which acted as simple scene setters, more aperitif than the main serving. This is quite common in gigs as a band adjusts to the surroundings of a place they have only just been exposed to. However by the encore, the band and audience were buzzing. ‘Gotta Have Rain’ saw the four protagonists roam unplugged around the hall in the ultimate audience connective state, while back on stage they all let rip for the evening finale of ‘Swallow Me Up’.

It was late in the show when Lynne formally introduced MJ Dandeneau (bass), Brodie Mohninger (lead guitar) and Shawn Killaly (drums), but by then we were fully acquainted with their playing, impression and vital importance to the show. MJ is a recognisable musician with from memory touring slots with Amanda Rheaume and the Good Lovelies being recalled. Lynne controlled proceedings with a mix of the deeply personal and humorous, never hiding her proud Canadian status and utter appreciation that her music is being enjoyed by folks many miles from her home. Songs like ‘Just for Now’, ‘Heaven and Hell’ and ‘Broken with You’ reveal Lynne at her heartfelt best, adept at producing a sensitive ballad on her own as to purely rocking out with her band.

One of the prime moments when they did rock out was the blues induced ‘Devil Said Do’ from the new record. Instinct and mood are more drivers for Lynne’s music rather than genre conventions, but if you’re looking for markers you’ll find segments of country, folk, rock and blues in her music. All fine ingredients if your music interest lies in all things Americana, still a weird word use for somebody north of the 49th parallel.

From Lynne’s previous releases, the title track off RIVER OF SAND proved one of the show’s outstanding moments. You can’t relate to this type of music without a dip into your dark side and from the murder ballad album 7 DEADLY SPINS, ‘Gravedigger’ and ‘Cecil Hotel’ met with a sinister approval. On a lighter side, the whole audience heeded the invite to join in with the chorus of ‘Trading in My Lonesome’, perhaps signifying the end of a dark tunnel.

As is usual with these Bewdley promotions, a local band and a youth act give the evening a lengthy opening before the main artist takes to the stage. A duo named Marlar filled the band slot with a thirty minute performance of selective cover songs plus a couple of originals. A three piece youth band going by the name of Mayfli opened up the evening and displayed a very impressive style of harmony singing as they once again paraded a set of mainly covers and the odd original. This formula is a vital cog in the evening’s success and creates an atmosphere that can sometimes be missing for touring artists at this level.

Lynne Hanson and The Good Intentions certainly revelled in this atmosphere as they headed towards the completion of the UK leg of their current European tour. It now seems a long time ago since Lynne was first caught live when opening for Gretchen Peters. While the following years may have seen many highs and lows, there must be enormous pride in a growing back catalogue and the rewards of shows like this, after pouring so much effort into promoting her work overseas. Us as an audience will rarely be exposed to artists’ lows, but we were certainly present when the high was reached during this show.

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