This was the last night of a long tour, but Mary Gauthier was happy to be playing in this intimate venue. She was joined throughout by violinist Michele Gazich who added some strong additional textures to the songs. The set was drawn from across Mary’s albums and she open with several songs played back to back, including the much loved I Drink as the third song, before she declared she was warmed up and then started her dialogue with the audience. Mary told us she would like to play us a happy song but couldn't as she hadn't written one yet. She said her songs are not miserable, but rather more bitter/sweet. Mary said that happy songs on the radio tended to make her miserable.
That certainly wasn't the case here as the audience picked up on the passion, pain and perception of Mary Gauthier's songs. She explained the origins of many such songs, as the execution of Karla Faye in the song of that name. Mary spoke of walking around on Christmas day in Key West, Florida and seeing a bunch of homeless men with a Christmas Tree celebrating the day under a bridge, an experience which produced Christmas In Paradise from her Filth & Fire album. She read about Steam Train Maury in a New York Times obituary which became the inspiration for The Last of the Hobo Kings. Can't Find the Way is a lament for the people who were displaced, and worse, by Hurricane Katrina. Gauthier draws from many sources for her finely crafted songwriting and is, above all, a gifted storyteller who can engage and hold an audience with ease. Mary also has a distinctive voice, one that she has learnt through experience to make the most of and it is now a strong instrument that perfectly captures the nuances of her writing.Other songs in the set included Between the Daylight and the Dark and Our Lady of the Shooting Stars.
Support for the tour was the talented singer/songwriter Ben Glover whom Gauthier called back to the stage for the last part of her set. Their two voices blended well and with Gazich's playing they created a very compelling sound. There were a couple of new songs included in the set too, one of which was written to explore the legend of Robert Johnson and the effects of selling one's soul; Oh Soul is a future classic. Glover also returned for the encore of Mercy Now and traded verses with Glover on the song.
It was a good way to end to what had been another enjoyable show. Mary Gauthier always gives what she has to any audience that really listens and an evening with a songsmith of her calibre is not going to disappoint. and she hasn't yet. So here's to the next chapter in the unfolding story.
Review by Stephen Rapid. Photograph by Ronnie Norton