My Darling Clementine @ The Conservative Club, Dublin 28th November 2014


Making their Dublin debut Michael Weston King and his wife Lou Dalgleish brought an acoustic version of their joint My Darling Clementine project to the intimate surroundings of the Dublin Conservative Club. King wryly noted that this was the first time he’d stepped into a Conservative Club and perhaps should have brought some copies of the Morning Star with him. After some initial problems getting a balance on the house PA they delivered a set of original songs and covers that appealed to the captivated audience.

They opened with That’s All It Took, a song recorded by George Jones and Gene Pitney and also by Gram and Emmylou. Other songs in the set aside from their own material included the Jones’ She Thinks I Still Care as well the genuine encore of Pete Seeger’s Mary Don’t You Weep. They had earlier played a “false” encore at the end of the set asking the audience to clap loudly so that they didn’t need to leave the stage go to the dressing room and then return hoping that the audience would still be there. They needn’t have worried as the applause was genuine.

Other than Endless Wandering Stars a song from King’s solo career they drew from their two albums How Do You Plead? and The Reconciliation. These included 100,000 Stars, Put Your Hair Back, Reserved For You And Me, Departure Lounge, No Matter What Tammy Said (I Won’t Stand By Him) as well as such potential country classics (in an ideal world) as No Heart In This Heartache, I No Longer Take Pride and I Can’t Live Without You (When You Can’t Live With Yourself). They may be calculated songs written to purpose but that doesn’t diminish their effectiveness or memorability.

The most poignant moment came when the sang Ashes, Flowers and Dust a song written by Dalgleish in memory of her mother and of King’s father. It longs for a moment when the departed parents could (impossibly) come back to hold their daughter’s hand one more time. It stuck a chord with many in the audience and was a genuine moment of sadness shared. But while much of the rest of the evening’s songs dealt with martial disharmony and strife it was done with an underlining sence of levity that understands the nature of farce that us inherent in such a construct.

Hopefully the there will soon be another episode of this ongoing country soap song cycle that has struck a chord for both performers and with the public at large and finds them delivering some of the best traditionally based, but forward looking, country music being made in the UK (or elsewhere) at the moment. What is readily apparent from this performance is the individual strengths of both vocalists delivering songs that, though imprinted with some ironic and iconic humour, have depth and understanding. They mirror real life experiences in a way that the best of country music has always done.

Not lost or even gone My Darling Clementine promise to be back next year with a full band in tow and that is something not to be missed. Here, however, with just two voices and a tambourine they are an enjoyable evening out that enlightens and entertains.

Review by Stephen Rapid   Photograph by Ronnie Norton