Patty Griffin @ Whelan's - 8th September 2015.


This gig is part of a short European tour for Patty Griffin, just before she embarks on a more comprehensive American tour to promote her new album, Servant of Love. Playing almost the entire new record is something that not a lot of artists would be brave enough to contemplate but Patty Griffin is not someone to allow others control of her creative muse.

The beauty of tonight is that the enthralled audience listen in rapt silence and reverence to each of the new offerings as if they were already old favourites. Indeed they sound very much like songs we have heard before, if only in the ether and the magic dust that surrounds all great song writing.

Never one to stand still and be placed in a specific genre Patty Griffin continues to evolve as a person and a songwriter of incredible depth and maturity. The new record is quite stunning especially when we are treated to the stripped down versions of the songs in such an intimate surrounding.

You could hear a pin drop as the new tunes find a way into the hearts and minds of the capacity crowd and whether playing guitar or piano, Patty sounded in top form with that wonderful voice reaching out and filling every part of the venue with its soulful power.

Accompanied on the night by David Pulkingham on guitars, the interplay between the two musicians was quite breath taking at times as they weave patterns around the rhythm created. Both musicians are very accomplished players and tuning issues apart, which Patty put down to jet-lagged guitars, the subtle touches and teasing colours they paint are a joy to experience.

Of the new release, Patty speaks about love - in all its guises and varied forms. There is a Mexican revolutionary song to open the show (a tilt at the American Government stance on immigration recently?) which warms up the room for what is to follow.

There Isn't One Way and Gunpowder follow in an electric groove with the guitars slightly too loud for the vocals to be clearly heard, but after this powerful beginning things settle into a more acoustic feel with Servant of Love played at the piano. It is a melancholic song which displays a quite stunning vocal as Patty wrings every ounce of passion and yearning from her soulful delivery.

Made of the Sun, Hurt a Little While, Everything's Changed follow a theme of reflection and love lost whereas the anger and frustration of Good and Gone, written in the wake of another police shooting of a black youth in America, is delivered in a potent message against inequality and injustice. 

250,000 Miles is a lament from a mother to her child who is in servitude and far away from home. You Never Asked Me is a stand out performance at the piano as Patty sings of the loneliness of lost relationships and how we "glide along all the bends of time, falling for little tricks of the mind"..,

An older song, Strange Man, is played and there are a couple of Gospel songs, Waiting for my Child and Precious Lord, both of which are a real treat and point to a new road down which Patty could easily walk. Whatever direction she may take, the magical quality to her voice continues to stoke her creative fire.

The encore arrives all too soon with Patty playing Heavenly Day and Top of the World, two old favourites that leave the crowd calling for more and thankful to have shared some special moments with such a unique traveller who continues on her seekers journey.

Review by Paul McGee.  Photograph by Vincent Lennon