No trouble parking tonight as a closure to the stretch of road outside the Troubadour for repairs meant that there were spaces for everybody. The only drawback being that it must have been for repairs to a gas main as the Troubadour was unusually cold tonight but we had a strong bill ahead to take our minds of things and bumping into Twinnie as we entered the venue meant that we were also promised a special guest at some point.
An altogether topsy turvy evening started with the headliner Laura Evans and her band coming on first. Telling us that she'd been away doing panto led to the inevitable heckle of "Oh No you haven't!" which she took in good spirit. Opening with "Remember When" her voice perhaps now a little richer and bluesier than when the song was originally recorded. Her band consisting of drums, bass keyboards and guitar made the song into a good bit of punchy pop music. The inspiration to "Ride" was revealed as being a boy who lived on a hill, it had distinctly country feel to it and never more so than when the "Ride" took a an interesting diversion in to "Jolene" before resuming its normal course.
For the next song Laura in her quite fetching outfit, promised a John Mayer vibe for the song "Easy" and successfully delivered a smooth soulful sound into the room. Laura's latest single "Heartstrings" had a gentle piano intro that led into a gentle ballad that eventually became a big powerful attention catching chorus.
It was at this point that things again took a strange turn as Laura came off stage to take up camera duties, filming tonights special guest the aforementioned Twinnie. Having three ladies on the bill could have made for an evening of similar sounds however this well curated bill had chosen three singers who each brought something distinctly different to the table.
Twinnie who had been filming Laura's performance from the side took to the stage in her "Friends" T shirt for a short 2 song set that previewed some new material she'll be releasing over the next few weeks. Playing with just an acoustic guitarist her songs were delivered in a sassy kind of way, "Cupid" not the Sam Cooke classic had a "I Hate You Cupid" chorus, while "Hollywood Gypsy" with its references about "smoking at the age of 10" was about her life story. The "Half Hollywood, Half Gypsy" chorus certainly reverberated around the room powerfully. There's an EP coming and appearances at C2C so we'll be seeing a lot more of Twinnie in the upcoming weeks for sure.
That was to bring an end to the first part of the evening.
For Lisa Wright, a short support slot gives a chance to polish off her pretty well practiced condensed set. As ever there was lots to admire she used the opener "Why Would I Wanna" to make contact with everyone was in the room, while during "Back To You" she smiled on hearing herself echoing in the mix like her own backing singer and delivered a faultless version just hanging on the last notes to extract every ounce of pathos from the song.
In a six song set there was an absolutely perfect "Giving Up The Ghost", followed by "Time After Time" which saw Lisa providing her own percussion by gently tapping the side of her guitar with her fingers, it also provided the evenings first singalong.
With "Tennessee" being a lesson in the perfect country pop song and "In The End" a tour de force closing out the set.
Laura Evans and her band then joined Lisa on stage for a version of the Grammy aware winning "Space Cowboy" with Laura taking the opening verse over just a piano while Lisa took the second verse with them duetting on the chorus - a lovely touch.
Laura then continued to deliver a mini two song set to close out part two of the evening - "Here To Stay" was another punchy pop tune while her take on "Tennessee Whiskey" was slightly unusual in that it was delivered with such a beaming smile, rather than the brooding joy of Mr Stapleton, a fine version none the less.
The last time we caught up with Lars he was fronting his band the Reevers at the Rock Garden in a splendid fashion, tonight it was just him, an acoustic guitar and the excellent Helena Gullan on fiddle who with a huge smile and some expressive playing nearly stole the show.
The pair opened with a Randy Travis cover "My Love Is Deeper", with Helena's fiddle making a great backing to Lars. It would not be Lars without a version of "Dear Country Music" however his comments in the lyrics will strike a chord with many dismayed by some of the output purportedly allying itself to being "country music".
Lars did reveal that he has done his first co write of sorts with a 15 year old girl Megan Lee - of the Blue Genes. He seemed truly taken aback that one so young could express such lyrics and "Feel Good Song" was certainly something special. With a 5:00 flight to Australia looming in the am this was to be a fleeting appearance, but with Helena in situ they could not go without playing the unofficial state song of "The Devil Went Down To Georgia".
The evening closed in something of a chaotic if good humoured manner with Laura and her band coming back on stage for a version of "Jackson" before Lisa Wright (who was almost ready to leave herself to the point that she had her coat on) was brought back to the stage for "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" with just about everybody sharing vocals at some point.