LIVE REVIEW: The Delines, Alasdair Roberts @ Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle (28.01.19) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Alasdair Roberts was a late addition to this bill (I think he supported The Delines in Glasgow the previous night and they pulled him into the tour van) and his austere folk didn’t seem to go down too well with a lot of the “we like both kinds of music – country AND western” crowd, but he was as good as ever, his singular brogue delivering a fine mix of original and traditional songs.

The Delines look as delighted to be here this evening as we are to have them: singer Amy Boone’s horrible accident a couple of years back made it touch and go whether she would walk again, let alone perform, but they’re here and they’re absolutely magnificent.

They’re promoting their recent second album, The Imperial, which takes the formula of their debut – late-night, heartbreak, whisky-drinking country soul – and makes it even richer, even more affecting. The songs are yet more blue-collar tales of addiction, loss, despair, yearning and – just sometimes – love and hope, full of all-too-believable characters like Eddie and Polly and Charly, people you’d meet in any mid-west diner or, crucially, in the pages of one of Vlautin’s wonderful novels. But while these might be Willy Vlautin’s songs, it’s Boone that’s living them. delivering with a voice that’s almost without equal. There’s a pain and honesty in her vocals that is utterly convincing – you believe her ache on He Doesn’t Burn For Me the way you believe Bessie Banks on Go Now or Otis Redding on I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.

And, of course the band (largely from Vlautin’s other outfit Richmond Fontaine) are peerless, but play in way that’s unobtrusive, fully in service of the songs and of Boone. Freddy Trujillo’s bass is warm and expressive, Corey Gray’s trumpet standing in admirably for the brass arrangements on the album. You can also sense a genuine affection between the band, and a sense of relief that Boone’s return means they can play together again. They encore with a double whammy from their Colfax debut and the deeply soulful Let’s Be Us Again from The Imperial and I can’t have been the only one with the slightest hint of grit in my eye. Absolutely remarkable stuff.

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