Lee Ann Womack, Charlie Worsham Union Chapel
Our last encounter with Charlie Worsham was at a small record shop in Chiswick so it was an absolute joy to see him stroll out on to the stage at the Union Chapel unintroduced to a huge round of applause that saw him immediately break into a huge grin and exclaim "My people!". The size and the grandeur of the venue also seemed to bring a little something extra out in Charlie as well the voice a little deeper, a little stronger and even a little warmer than usual as he tried fill the huge space.
This was Charlie on top form kicking off with "Young To Know" and "Old Times Sake" before a fantastic "Mississippi In July" complete, needless to say, with some fantastic guitar work. His joy at coming being in the UK again was clear to see and it was a chance for him play some new material in what he considers to be a "safe space". The three new songs were each exceptionally strong in their own different ways, "Love You To The Moon" the tale of "Johnny & Julie" a sort of space age love story, while "The Other Side Of The Lens" came with a fascinating back story of how Charlie's Mum has been bringing him to Europe and especially the UK since the age of 11. The song was truly heartfelt and "Literally true", full of tiny little details that will it make a key part of his set for some while to come.
The third new song was a definitely a side to Charlie we have not seen before and a vocal delivery that you would perhaps not associate with him. This was a big angry vocal to "I Want to Put My Fists Through This Town" and he truly filled the Chapel with his performance. Finishing with a breath taking "Southern By The Grace Of God" which built to a real crescendo, it was a great reminder of just how absorbing time with Charlie can be - the set flew by and as he left the stage to a huge round of applause and a standing ovation it did feel as if we had witnessed something personal and special..
Lee Ann Womack then picked up the mantle on a quite amazing night, to deliver a show that highlighted her new album "The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone" as well dipping into her extensive back catalogue to produce a well blended set. Accompanied by two guitarists on stools Lee Ann chose to stand for the duration of the set and immediately got things going with "Does My Ring Burn Your Finger" and "Never Again Again" to great acclaim and established a great rapport with the audience, "How country are you?" she asked.
This was to a be a performing masterclass, from the expressive gesturing during "Don't Listen To The Wind" or the ability to create a personal song from simply opening a box of photographs such as "Mama Lost Her Smile" that manages to resonate with everyone with the accurate observation that "You don't take pictures of the bad times".
Lee Ann's voice as well as being pure country has the ability to have a rich soulful element to it, "Solitary Thinking" being one of the more soulful numbers of the night. There then followed a quite spectacular run of songs, "Chances Are" the Grammy nominated song was so descriptive it felt like we were in the bar watching the event unfold, That seemed to fit perfectly alongside "All The Troubles" which in turn sat along side the heartfelt performance of Lefty Frizells' "The Long Black Veil" with every ounce of pathos extracted. Once again Lee Ann's ability to paint pictures through her choice of songs came to the fore with "Last Call" where she perfectly captures the mixed emotions of the song..
The songs kept on coming, the classic "I May Hate Myself In The Morning" never sounded better, and she took a certain relish in performing "The Way I'm Livin'" which she revealed is her Mothers least favourite song of hers! the set closed with a big smile and a great rendition of " I Hope You Dance". If there was any complaint of the evening it was just that passed by too quickly.
The encores were a couple of classic country covers, George Jones's "You're Still On My Mind" and Don William's "Lord I Hope This Day Is Good", and with plenty of other songs she could have played let's hope she comes back soon.