Lauren Morrow - The Green Note - Camden
Following up on a highly successful appearance at The Long Road last year and off the back of her spectacular new album "People Talk" is Lauren Morrow. Her current European tour only had room for one UK date so this was bound to be a special night.
On arrival the stage was set for a full band which included 2 keyboards and a full drum kit which was a little concerning at first - The Green Note has been a graveyard for shows killed by an enthusiastic drummer drowning things out. Tonight's band were perfectly in sync with their surroundings though and full kudos to the Green Note sound man who produced one of the best balanced shows we've ever heard there. The full stage though would present its own problems - husband and guitarist Jason barely had room to turn around while guest bassist and Green Note regular Michelle Stodart had a very small area of space in which to operate. The only question that remained to be answered was whether this lineup could hope to recreate the many musical styles that are employed throughout "People Talk" which veers from its core Americana sound into Britpop, Disco and Beatlemania at times - once again the answer was a resounding yes!
The evening would split into two halves, and from the very start the importance of that keyboard sound would be key to the success of the whole evening - the opener "Mess Around" for instance. had almost a Springsteen feel to it, and perfectly complemented Jason's guitar work, giving the ideal backing for Lauren to perform to.
The new album was immediately referenced with the opening single "Only Nice When I'm High" which again saw Jason's guitar working in harmony with a delicious organ sound which gave everything a slight new wave feel - Lauren once again pitched her vocals perfect on this song, part wry, part honest, always excellent.
The new album is packed with gems and Lauren would kick the next song "Looking For Trouble" off on her acoustic. It comes with a line " Sometimes I wonder if you are even my friend" which saw Lauren's vocal effortlessly move though the scales. This live version also kept in the Beatlesque dream sequence which saw Jason's guitar playing go suitably dreamy.
The old time country of "H_U_S_T_L_E" about "Working your butt off!" saw both Jason and Michelle shaking their respective guitars to extract every last decibel of sound. Another insight in to just how far the keyboards allowed Lauren to wander away from the traditional Americana sound came with "I'm Sorry" - that almost spooky intro more like something that you might expect from a band like The Eels, although the chorus allowed Lauren to hit some spectacular notes. The coda saw another Beatles nod with Lauren and Jason harmonising on the "We've got to let It go" line.
If Lauren wants to do pure Americana then she can do it at the drop of a hat "I Don't Think About You At All" was a first class ballad. From there it was into the glorious noise of "Nobody But Me" with Jason clearly revelling in being able to generate some noise. Along with some inventive percussion this was a smouldering rocker,. The first half would close out with the dreamy "It's You" complete with backing vocals from all 3 men in the band followed by the rootsy blues of "Do Better" which saw Michelle's head perpetually bobbing up and down as she got into the groove.
The second half would start with just Lauren on stage for the somewhat bleak "Birthday" which Lauren revealed was about a split between her and Jason. As beautiful as it is sad, this really focussed the attentions for the second half of the show. The mood was sustained with the excellent "Alabama" with Lauren's love for her Grandparents home laid out in the details dripped across every line.
Jason would return for the next song that dates back to their previous band The Whiskey Gentry - "If You Were An Astronaut" saw Jason take Laurens acoustic while she stood gesturing with her left hand while holding the microphone stand tightly with her right.
The full band would return for the story of Lauren's Mum "Viki Lynn" - this was the band at their absolute rocking best, topped off with Lauren doing a cracking tribute to her Mum. Taking the lineage theme a little further back was "Family Tree" which came with the organ sound doubling for strings
One of the songs that won us over at Long Road was "Barbara Jean" which is one of the few laugh out loud murder ballads that you will come across.
It was only late in the day as Lauren introduced the band that the reason for the nights success became more apparent - our keyboard whizz was in fact the Producer and co-writer of many of the songs Parker Cason, while Matt on drums had been with Lauren for the last month. The title track to "People Talk" is a bizarre little almost disco number that saw Lauren dancing while clicking her fingers, while "Leona" would see Lauren unwrap the mic from its stand entirely for another stunning band performance,
The final song of the main set would be just Lauren and Jason tackling an Oasis song - bizarrely introduced as "Wonderwall" but in fact was "Talk Tonight" - in a suitably stunning version with Jason providing some off stage backing vocals.
An encore of Dolly Partons "9 to 5" would bring the curtain down on a highly entertaining evening -
Lauren's excellent album "People Talk" comes highly recommended and she will be a must see the next time she returns to these shores which hopefully won't be too far away.