Friday, 19 September 2008

Shelby Lynne at the Royal Festival Hall

Chris introduced me to Shelby Lynne tonight - I was aware of the name but not the music. Sort of nu-country recently tuned into Dusty Springfield, southern USA accent and steel guitar riffs calling up images of endless highways through the desert. Shelby's got a good voice and a nice stage presence but I wasn't in the right place to appreciate her fully.

I don't know why, but I was incredibly tired and dozed off twice on the tube on the way to the Southbank despite being rattled around. Maybe it was because I'd already been out for the longest time today since coming out of hospital (doctor this morning and then up to the post office and provisions this afternoon) or maybe it was because I'd taken my painkillers before leaving to cushion me against being shaken about by London Transport? Whichever, I was bone-weary and not receptive. I need to work on the stamina thing.

The crowd loved her and were hers as soon as she walked on stage in tight leather trousers and shiny stiletto leather boots. The people around us seemed rather posh and there was definitely an early middle age thing going on (or that might just be the Royal Festival Hall effect). Shelby played a mix of old and new, with a nice segment of Dusty Springfield ballads from her new album early on in the show - 'Just A Little Lovin'', 'The Look Of Love', 'I Only Want To Be With You' (for some reason this conjoured up the version by The Tourists...) and 'Anyone Who Had A Heart' (and I, naturally, thought of Cilla). They were all around the same tempo and had me thinking more of a supper club show than a gig.

I quite liked some of the more up-tempo songs with more energy in them, like 'Willie And Laura Mae Jones' and 'The Day Johnny Met June'. I also liked her version of 'Polk Salad Annie' (a song I haven't heard in a couple of decades at least!).

The sound quality varied - sometimes I couldn't make out what Shelby was singing, since she seemed to get lost in the mix somewhere (I was at the edge of the hall in the stalls so that might be partly to blame). She certainly seemed to have a good time. She told us this was her first gig in London in seven years and seemed really grateful that people had turned out to see her - she needn't have worried on that score since her people loved her and gave her two standing ovations. I can't say I did but I'm open to be converted. When I'm not so tired, that is...

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