Returning to the Sugar Club in support of her latest album Tin Star Lindi Ortega again impresses with her spirit take on country music. This time out she is accompanied only by mvp Champagne James Robertson on Telecaster and acoustic guitar. It doesn't take long to realise that this duo are as entertaining as the full band that she had backing her on the previous visit. What the sound lacks in deeper textures it makes up in vigour. She opens with the title track of the new album. It is a song about struggling singers playing for tips in the bars on Lower Broadway in Nashville. She then greets the assembled crowd with a "How Y'all Doing Tonight?" before announcing that the next song All My Friends was about "a little debauchery". Ortega played selections from her three recent albums while obviously concentrating on a selection from her latest release. A spiky take on The Eagles' Desperado was played, it was she told us, a song that was one of her Mother's favourites. She dedicated it to her and said she was not with us before realising the possible implication. Laughing she explained that her mother was still very much alive, rather that she just wasn't here tonight.
Sometimes she just sang and at other she changed her acoustic guitar for a electric. "My Shiny Black Beast" she told us she had christened it. Together she and Roberston made some noise on the two electrics. At one point she brought her friend Dave Danger onstage to play acoustic guitar but otherwise it was the duo who commanded attention. Ortega has a twang to her voice that is ideal for the songs she sings. Songs that are never retro but unlike many of her mainstream contemporaries are obviously rooted in the music she grew up listening to.
She was happy to be back in Ireland and told us of her love for Cadburys Chocolate, especially the Snack bar which she had been able to find so far. There's in an obvious charm to the between songs patter and moments of spontaneity such as when she stepped on her guitar lead at the end of the song and pulled it out with a loud thunk making it she said "the most rock 'n' roll ending.
Others songs included Demon's Don't Get Me Down, Bluebird and Voodoo Mama. All proved that as well as being a captivating vocalist and guitar player Linda Ortega is also a compelling songwriter. But praise again to the inventive playing of James Robertson. I'm not sure how she would be received over an entire set purely playing on her own, but it would doubtless be entertaining. On this occasion the duo delivered something special and Lindi Ortega live is something that should be a regular occurrence at least once a year - in line with her equally star rated albums.
Review by Stephen Rapid. Photography by Ronnie Norton