May 10, 2016
Not many groups can claim to have created a musical genre but The Long Ryders could stake a claim for inventing Alt-Country, along with Jason And The Scorchers. Their influence can be heard in the sound of The Jayhawks and Uncle Tupelo as well as many others.
I first saw them on the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1985 when they performed Looking For Lewis And Clark and Lights Of Downtown, two songs that are still among my favourites. They originally split up in 1987, having released 3 albums, and despite occasional reunions I’ve never had the opportunity to see them.
Now they’ve released a box set, Final Wild Songs, composed of all the material from their three full-length albums, their one EP, various demos and rarities, and a previously unavailable 15-song performance from a Benelux radio appearance in March 1985. A tour to support it includes a show in Leeds so I’m finally going to get to see them.
They start their 20 song setlist with Run Dusty Run and end it 80 minutes later with Looking For Lewis And Clark. The audience, me included, absolutely love it. Alt-Country at it’s best and if they never tour again, which seems likely, then at least I got to see them before they went.
You can see those Old Grey Whistle Test performances here and here.
March 31, 2014
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.