Lindi Ortega @ The Grand Social - Dublin, June 2nd 2018

Returning to the Dublin stage the first time in a number of years Lindi Ortega said that in the future she hoped to spend more time in Ireland rather than passing through for a single show. She has an Irish mother and a Mexican father and felt an affiliation with the country. She had just arrived here and was still suffering from jet lag but that didn’t in any way take away from a solid and memorable performance. She was accompanied by her friend and long time live lead guitarist “Champagne” James Robertson and drummer Sly Juhas. The duo provided an interesting and effective bedrock over which the revived Ortega gave a strong and renewed vocal delivery. The lack of a bass player wasn’t readily noticeable as the bottom end came. largely, from the bass drum. She explained that she had considered quitting the music business, finding it heard got make headway in the current crossover-pop climate.

Living in Nashville had exposed her to some good times and friends but she was up against a corporate commercial bro-country ethos that seem to have little time for women artists and less for her. This experience was recalled in the song Tin Star. Through the 16 song set she covered songs from various stages of her career with, naturally, t he bulk of choices from her recently released album Liberty. Some of the album’s songs included ’Til My Dyin’ Day, The Comeback Kid, Lovers In Love (which she describes as a very rare bone-fide love song), though Pablo was another such theme inspired, she said, by her recent marriage (and also Antonio Banderas - especially in the film Desperado but not to tell her husband). The songs from Liberty also included the title track and her Spanish language version of Violeta Parra’s Gracias A La Vida -  singing in the languages something that she was nervous about doing until it seemed the perfect closer for this song cycle of redemption and for people travelling the “stormy seas of life,” The overriding theme of this album.  

She also quipped how she had mentioned to Roberston that she wanted to include a certain death song in the set and she laughingly recalled that he had asked which one as she had at least 10 such songs to choose from. Old favourites like Cigarettes And Truckstops also got an airing. That song was written about wishing she could be in LA with her boyfriend of the time but ended up being a song rather than the actuality of doing just that! Bluebird and Ashes were other well received tracks from her previous releases.

Though Ortega is undoubtably the star of the show it was obvious that the dexterous and exploratory guitar playing of Robertson was a draw in it’s own right. Something akin to the sonic stylings of fellow Canadian Daniel Lanois. He rarely played chords rather added lines, riffs and sounds that enhanced the mood of the songs. Likewise the drums were not confined to a simple, solid beat but rather explored the possibilities of the full kit. Ortega herself added rhythm guitar on occasion on her newly acquired white Fender acoustic. Most of the songs she performed however just holding the microphone and singing the best we’d heard her to date.Overall, then, this was a reaffirmation of Ortega’s talent and determination to get herself and her music across. Both were done to satisfaction from both sides of the stage.

Review by Stephen Rapid  Photography by Kaethe Burt O'Dea