Jeannine Barry looking stunning in black, kicked things off hot on the release of her excellent new EP, one of the years finest, with two acoustic guitarists, and a banjo player as backing. She was in fine voice as she rattled off “Off The Hook”, “Lonely Road” and “Carousel” from her previous EP. The new EP “Bittersweet” has a new sound that really shows a new side to Jeannine, which we’ll be looking to see more of in 2017, the band tonight was not really set up to reproduce that soulful sound especially on the title track but they put in a good shift nonetheless. It was nice to see a welcome return of her Nashville cover “Don’t Put Dirt On My Grave Just Yet”, as well as the excellent “Us Or Drinking” which has hit a nerve with many who have heard it and well deserves its place in the set. Last Year’s single “All Night” along with another song from the new EP “Burning Bridges” saw the set on the home straight before it closed with the traditional Christmas song “Long Hot Summer!”. With a tour planned for the new year it will be interesting to see if some of the older material can be reimagined into her new style.
Kris Barras and his cajon player are only 50% of the normal Kris Barras band, so not sure how representative tonights showing was. Kris bearded and heavily tattooed was playing what looked like a 4 string box guitar. When he kicked off with “Somebody Like You” the swampy blues sound had a touch of the ZZ Top about it, his voice was certainly strong and they made a big sound. “Big City Lights” and “Heart On Your Sleeve” with its somewhat unique and physically impossible chorus followed with some gusto. It was at this point that the limitations of the line up were slightly exposed as the songs were unable to be fleshed out further with the instrumentation available. He’s on the Buckles & Boots Line up for 2017 so we’ll catch up again next year.
Devon Mayson took to the stage in a stunning outfit with some familiar faces backing her (Tobi Ripley & Did Coles from Dexeter on drums and guitar respectively). It was a first sighting for us of Devon and she made a very favourable impression, with the live performance even better than her debut mini album “Lie To Me”. She has a strong powerful voice and belts out songs quite unlike anyone else on the UK circuit.
Starting with “Lipstick In The Limelight” and the title track of her album “Lie To Me”, Devon immediately showed a great vocal range – “Lie To Me” being particularly impressive. At this point she strapped on her guitar and in true Christmas spirit launched into a solo version of Silent Night. This in itself was not that unusual at this time of year, but not many people were then expecting versions in German and then French to follow! It was time to return to the album for the slow burner of “I Already Know” before again picking up the guitar and then really letting rip on the vocals for “Tonight”.
Devon was full of Christmas surprises and the announcement of a country Christmas carol in the shape of a “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” initially had me feeling a bit nervous of what was to come but she won the audience over completely with the first verse sung acapella to be followed by a sumptuous band version including an exquisite fiddle solo. Then it was time for a very special moment, as she took out a minute to explain that the next song “Fly High” was about her young cousin who had died earlier in the year. It was obviously a difficult to sing but she overcome her emotions to deliver a truly moving performance, just gently wiping away a small tear at the end of what must have been a difficult few minutes. In a complete change of pace, it was time for a cover of Taylor Swift’s “Sparks Fly”. before getting the venue dancing to the hillbilly romp of “No” with its tremendously catchy chorus. To close things out, it was another big song from “Lie To Me”, the hard to believe “You Only Love Me When You’re Drunk” which again stirred the 100 Club into a round of dancing.
There was one more piece of Christmas magic to be spread in the encore in the shape of “Have Yourself A Very Merry Christmas”, a very fitting finale to what had been an excellent performance. She has very big plans for 2017 including a European tour with Caitlin Koch and it seems certain she’ll make a huge impact on the UK country scene over the next 12 months.