There was a strong sense of anticipation for the first Irish date of Margo Price and the Pricetags. She is a traditionally-minded country music artist who has received prominent exposure in the rock press and mainstream media rather than just the more genre based magazines and websites. The venue was full and kudos to Aiken Promotions for bringing her in with her full band rather than just as a solo act. It sure payed off as the band were terrific.
The show was opened though by her husband Jeremy Ivey who played some songs and offered some good natured banter with the audience. One of his songs Staring At The Wall was about having to stay at home minding their young child while Margo was touring. Margo Price joined him for a couple of songs including a recently written instrumental and a song called I’m Gonna Miss Me about a man contemplating ending everything in a black-humoured way which contained some entertaining lines such as “You can keep the life insurance but be sure to feed the dog.”
The band took the stage a little later and opened with a storming Jerry Reed instrumental entitled Swarmin’ before Margo joined them with the first of several tracks from her debut album Midwest Farmer’s Daughter. About To Find Out, Tennessee Song, Since You Put Me Down all followed in a strong if slightly tentative style as both artist and audience got the measure of each other. But she soon got into her stride and began to loosen up and enjoy herself. This was noticeable on the several covers included in the show where she often put down the guitar and simply concentrated on her singing. These were well-chosen cover songs that included Johnny Cash’s Big River, Red Bandana that came with a dedication to it’s author Merle Haggard and the Dolly Parton classic Jolene - a song which hit the spot for many judging by those singing along.
There was a band cover showcase when they played Nashville Skyline Rag an instrumental from Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline album. This was a show where band and singer (as well as Ivey who joined the band on some nifty harmonica and acoustic guitar for several songs) showed their chops and how well they work as a well-oiled team. Some of the intros bordered on a hard rock noise before setting into the pedal steel and Telecaster twang that ran behind Price’s expressive and impressive voice. These are (some of) the same players who feature on the album: Kevin Black on bass, Jamie Davis on guitar, Luke Schneider on a ShoBud pedal steel guitar and Dillon Napier on drums. All deserve a mention as a major part of the sound and feel.
There were some non-album songs too; notably and the country-themed and genre fitting It Ain’t Drunk Driving If You’re Riding A Horse (the song was a “true story” she told us) and Desperate and Depressed a song that was released on the b-side of one of her singles. For the end of the set Price left the stage to sing among the audience on After Hurtin’ (On The Bottle) before she left the main venue.
She came back after much encouragement from the audience to play the final three song encore segment which included Four Years Of Chances and two covers, an extended and convincing version of Me And Bobby McGee and a final high octane version of Rodney Crowell’s Ain’t Living Long Like This which ended the evening on a high and they all then came forward to take a deserved bow to acknowledge the response from the audience. Later Price came to the merchandising stand to meet and greet those who wanted to say hello. They were many who took the opportunity and many who will remember the evening with a big smile and look forward to the next time that Margo Price brings her Pricetags to town.
Review by Stephen Rapid Photography by Kaethe Burt O'Dea