There were many of us who questioned the wisdom of doing a Borderline show, only a few days before a free appearance at Canary Wharf, fortunately, Angaleena fans are not averse to seeing their heroine twice in one week and they were to be well rewarded for filling the venue to near capacity.
First up though was Bedford’s finest, Danni Nicholls playing solo and with a mixture of material from her albums. At the recent Bush Hall Songwriters round, I was surprised how many of what should be her core audience were unaware of her talents so let us try to correct that now! Her set opened with “Long Way Home” from her solid gold “Mockingbird Lane” album. I’ve always considered it a great song anyway but standing next to a fellow Bedford resident I was assured that the journey was lyrically accurate and that he could picture the places being described.
Next up the bluesy jazz of “Beautiful Game” from “A Little Redemption” before kicking things up a gear with some unbridled happiness on “Hey There Sunshine”. Danni regaled us with how she realised that her “Mockingbird Lane” was a “break up album” before playing a divine version of “Beautifully Broken”. To hold the listeners attention, in a notoriously boisterous venue is never easy but Danni managed it with ease and even temporarily turned the Bordeline into a revival meeting, with the crowd providing the backing vocals “Where The Blue Train Goes” before another gem in “Back To Memphis”, all of these songs stripped back to their very beginning.
One final treat, and indeed a song that perfectly captures the mood of the country at present came in the shape of “A Little Redemption” with its lyrics of hope seeming a fitting way to close her set, it also gave the audience a chance to provide backing humming vocals.
Angaleena also took to the stage solo, and delivered both a comic and musical tour de force that was outrageously funny as well as being musically excellent with some real pertinent observations to deliver about the state of US Country music. Wearing a chilli pepper dress, with her hair in stylish quiff and sporting her guitar strap emblazoned with her name she was to deliver 60 minutes plus of top quality entertainment.
Things got off to a cracking start with “American Middle Class” and “Knocked Up” before Angaleena launched into the first of many hilarious asides, to mention them all could fill a small paperback but for starters there was an observation about how the folk of Bristol don’t sing, how her dress was see through but that her guitar was covering the “best bits”. This was to be a set with a fair smattering of Pistol Annies songs, with the intro to “Housewives Prayer” managing to be both funny and tragic at the same time as she explained how she came to the line “I’ve been thinking about setting my house on fire”. For “Unhappily Married”, another Pistol Annies song she even found time to effortlessly tell an anecdote mid song.
“Dream’s Don’t Come True” came with a comment about how her see through dress might help “sell some merchandise”. The next section with “Country! and “Wrangled” spelt out all that is wrong with some elements of the US country music scene at present, Angaleena observed just how male orientated the current top 60 is. The set continued apace and once again between the merriment a little more social comment regarding her brother, jailed for 11 years in “Pills” and how he came to be there.
In absolutely fine voice, and completely relaxed on stage it is hard to convey just how enjoyable this show was. The final couple of songs, the Wanda Jackson co-write “Good Girl Down” from her new album “Wrangled” and a last Pistol Annies song “Lemon Drop”, for which the crowd provided the whistling support came around far too soon. The huge round of applause inevitably brought Angaleena back for the encores, announcing with a huge a grin, “well if you insist”, for two more slices of prime redneck material, with “Bless Your Heart” and “Better Off Red” the latter with its chorus that just tumbles of her lips.
A fantastic show from two artists who fully deserve your immediate attention!!