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  • Writer's pictureCHRIS FARLIE

LIVE REVIEW: KIMMIE RHODES - THE WATER RATS

KIMMIE RHODES - THE WATER RATS

An evening of Songs and Stories with Kimmie Rhodes is always likely to be an entertaining affair, her career entwines with just about anyone that was anyone on the country scene, while her family back story is equally entertaining. She's on a run of solo shows ostensibly to promote her excellent new album "Hypnotised", though as she'll later reveal it s as much about affording her the chance to visit her home in France, a country whose influence is seen lyrically on the record. The album her first in 9 years shows an artistic renaissance, lyrically and musically breaking new ground rather than treading water, showing age and experience are not creative barriers to making a great record.



As she takes to the stage, she looks in fine fettle, her hair like Emmylous Harris's who's name she will later drop is a shade of silvery white, and she will light up the room all evening with a bright smile as she adjusts to the attentive concentration that only a UK audience can bring. The show is two halves, the first mainly around her book "Radio Dreams" written with her soul mate Joe Gracey who passed in 2011, the second half nominally around the new album or as much as can be created in a solo format.


KIMMIE RHODES - THE WATER RATS

Each song is preceded by a lengthy introduction, her audience are as much here for them as they are the songs, and even though they may have heard some of them before or read about them in the book, they are lapped up as eagerly as if she had played an all time hit. The first song "Love Me Like A Song", covered by Willie Nelson, would see the audience, with remarkably little encouragement for a London crowd, immediately finding their voice. Despite nursing a slight tickle of a cough "Just One Love" would find her in fine voice, still hitting the long extended notes. Following it with "I Just Drove By", only three songs in and were part of Kimmie's world.


For a glimpse into how Kimmie got to singing before us, the introduction to "Daddy's Song" was as informative as you could get, the stories behind each line of the song were remarkable. veering between the dark and the funny within the blinking of an eye. This solo version carrying the pathos of the stories that had introduced it perhaps more than the jaunty recorded version,



The introduction to "Windblown" would involve tales of tornadoes , the song itself would see Kimmie play with her eyes mainly closed as if transported back in time by her own lyrics, at times her voice trailing off to barely a whisper, To break up the solo format, Nashville royalty would invite UK Country royalty, ( or as close as we have to it ) to the stage, in the shape of B J Cole. Renowned pedal steel player, tonight his dobro playing, immediately added something special to the overall sound on "Maybe We'll Just Disappear" with Kimmie even throwing in her own Waylon Jenning's imitation on the final verse, as he had cut her song originally. A new song "Let's Talk About Love" would once again see the Water Rat's find it's voice, it certainly added a party atmosphere to this uptempo rootsy blues number. Always something of musicologist Kimmie could not let the passing of Duane Eddy go unnoticed, and naturally had a story about him and in tribute played "Waltz Across Texas" the last song that they had played together.

KIMMIE RHODES - THE WATER RATS

There is always a point in any show when an artist announces that they are going to play songs from their new album, that more often than not can cause the shuffling of feet and the sudden urge to visit the toilet. With Kimmie it was the total opposite, if anything the songs from the new album "Hypnotized" were more fervently greeted than some of her more well known material - any why not - it is an excellent album! Firstly it was "No Tom Petty" one of the recent batch of singles, that trailed it's release, the audience singing of "Where do we go from here?" was as loud as any singalong #TEAMw21 had ever heard in the venue. Another of those singles "Invisible Mary" saw Kimmie play a lovely guitar line adding great drama to this solo version, while the unlikely named "Automated Music Inc" had some gaps filled in for us with it's introduction naming Sonny West ( Rave On & Oh Boy among others!) as one of the co writers. A penultimate visit to the new album would see Kimmie once again produce some wonderfully extended notes on "Just Love".



KIMMIE RHODES - THE WATER RATS

BJ Cole would return to the stage for a rousing version of "Bells Of Joy", the strident guitar playing of Kimmie complimented by BJ's dobro saw Kimmie looking on in a mixture of pride, amazement and joy as he played, The main set would close out with "Love And Happiness For You" covered by Joe Ely, Emmylou Harris & Mark Knopfler among others, a sweet lullaby to end on with some excellent sweet vocals to see us out.


The encore would see one last visit to the new album for "If You Closed Your Eyes", on the record a duet with Alejandro Escovedo, tonight just Kimmie delivering a heartfelt version to send us off into the night with. With a return visit penciled in for next year - i



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