17 February – The Strypes have come on in leaps and bounds since I last saw them at The Cockpit in May 2013. The biggest difference is the confidence they now exude. Whilst sticking to the R’n’B template that has served then so well they are beginning to slowly widen their palette, tonight including covers of songs by the Ramones and The Specials. Next time they play Leeds it’ll be at the Academy and hopefully I’ll be there.
Set list: What a Shame, So They Say, Lucky 7, She’s So Fine, What the People Don’t See, I Don’t Wanna Know, I’m a Hog for You, I Can Tell, Angel Eyes, Ooh Poo Pah Doo, Concrete Jungle, Perfect Storm, Hard To Say No, Mystery Man, Hometown Girls, Got Love If You Want It, Blue Collar Jane, Heart of the City, Rollin’ and Tumblin’.
Encore: Still Gonna Drive You Home, Rockaway Beach, Louie Louie, You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover.
21 February – In my opinion, which is not at all humble, Laura Cantrell is currently the finest female traditional country singer performing. Fortunately I’m seeing her for the third time tonight at The Wardrobe. This is a well judged set that covers her entire output but, as fine a songwriters as she is, prolific she is not. This means that she has to do a number of covers. She always chooses these well – tonight including Lucinda Williams’s Letters, Burt Bacharach’s Trains And Boats And Planes and a particularly fine version of New Order’s Love Vigilantes. A particularly amusing moment occurs when Laura was introducing Kitty Wells’s Dresses by explaining who Kitty Wells was. “You won’t have heard of her,” she says. The audience loudly disagrees and one wag shouts. “She didn’t come to Leeds either!”
An evening in the company of Laura Cantrell is time well spent.