Rodney Crowell with Will Kimbrough and Pat Buchanan
12 Bar, London, October 11
Regular readers of Maverick would have noticed how the magazine’s writers have been sent to various wonderful destinations to write reports and/or articles. For example, Helen was sent to Austin, Texas to report on the SXSW extravaganza, Eleanor also went to Texas to write about that wonderful music-drenched state, and even our very own editor has been over to Calgary in Canada to report on the Canadian country music week, and me? I get the 12 Bar Club in not so exotic London!! Jealousy, though, is not my forte, and I was actually very excited to be going to see such a special concert by one of the all-time greatest singer-songwriters who has ever walked this earth! To be able to go to such a small and very friendly and informal club, and be able to see a very special acoustic show by such an acclaimed star as Rodney Crowell, plus to also have two top guitarists in Will Kimbrough and Pat Buchanan supporting him up on stage, it was like… WOW!!
The adverts for these gigs (he had also played the 12 Bar the night before as well) were non-existent, but that was not a bad thing as it meant that the club was full of ardent fans who wanted to listen to the music, quite a few actually attending both nights!
Will and Pat were first up on stage to play a few of their own tunes. Will taking pole position with the blues rocker Piece of Work, with Pat chipping in with some amazing slide guitar. Pat then went very rootsy on the lovely ballad Patience. They carried on swapping songs for just over half an hour, Pat performing a batch of his own songs such as Smile on Your Face and Count The Ways, and Will remained very tight to the blues with the tongue-in-cheek I Lie Because I Can standing out above all others.
After a very short break all three stepped up onto the tiny stage and took their seats on the stools provided, and, acoustic guitars in place, went straight into We Can’t Turn Back from Rodney’s latest album The Outsider, with Pat adding some very atmospheric sounds on the harmonica. Rodney whipped through the first half-a-dozen or so songs with very little in-between chatter, mixing old songs in with new ones from his latest CD release. The new ones included the very powerful Say You Love Me and the charmingly winsome Beautiful Despair, which fitted nicely alongside songs such as the exemplary Earthbound from Fate’s Right Hand and the driving Topsy Turvy from the Houston Kid.
A couple of times during the set Rodney took a break from lead vocals to allow the other two to showcase one of their own songs each at a time, and Pat obliged with the fetching Cutting the Strings during the first such interlude, and the very popular Hyacinth Girl during the second one. Will also chimed in with the tremendous jazz/blues slowy Champion of the World, and I’m on Your Side with vocal accompaniment from Pat. But the night was mainly about Rodney Crowell and his new album, and he delivered some amazing acoustic takes on tracks such as the wonderful Glasgow Girl with its references to places such as Camden, the amazing Dancin’ Circles Round The Sun (Epictetus Speaks) with wonderful bass vocal harmony from Will, and both Will and Pat added vocal backing on the up-tempo The Obscenity Prayer (Give It To Me) which made me think of a band name for them, the Rodnettes!! Snazzy yes!?!
All jokes aside, this was an amazingly memorable concert, one, which I am sure all that attended will never forget. And the fact that all three were only playing acoustic guitars; the guitar playing was exemplary. The sounds that especially Will and Pat were getting from their instruments were just amazing, and the singing and musical camaraderie of all three was exceptional. An extremely magical show. Who needs exotic trips abroad!?!