LIVE REVIEW: Brennen Leigh & Noel McKay @ Courtroom Sessions, Middlesbrough Town Hall (25.10.19) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Sid Carne

They enter The Courtroom, the embodiment of Americana Noel McKay proudly donning a Stetson, Brennen Leigh sipping hot tea in a long, black sleeveless summer dress. The two ooze vintage, sharing a microphone that looks like it’s straight out of the 1930s. They banter with the audience, bringing a warmth with them, like they’ve known us for years. Then they start to sing. My do they sing! 

Every song that Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay sing is a story; beautifully crafted, woven into unique and fascinating melodies, all encapsulated in earthy retro country, held together by their stunning vocals. 

Brennen performs The John Deere Tractor Song, about her father driving his first tractor – age 8 and I hang onto every word. She is a virtuoso on the guitar. Noel plays one he wrote after a hallucination during a fever, in which Roger Miller sang to him in a dream from an advert at the bottom of his internet browser. It’s called The 50 Loneliest Places In The Nation and he deftly draws us in with his smooth, dulcet tones. I count along while I listen. Of course, there are exactly 50 places. We are introduced to the genre of sci-fi country music with Intergalactic ShipWreck Blues and their brand new hillbilly jazz number Analog.   

Then it’s all over and they gracefully exit. “See you next time,” drawls Noel, and we’re left wanting more, just as it should be. Another outstanding gig from Jumpin’ Hot Club.

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