The hot and steamy summer night of Friday 19 January would have seemed just like home for Deep South performers Steve Young and Mary Gauthier and struck me as being an absolutely appropriate, though somewhat uncomfortable, setting for the show.
Adelaide duo The Yearlings opened the show at 9.00pm with a quiet, laid back set of songs before handing over the stage to Steve Young.
The 1955 "Elvis Sun Sessions" record, Steve revealed, has been one of his favourite recordings and is still available today. He also remarked that Melbourne has always had the good taste to be out of sync with the rest of the world by representing his biggest fan base. This lead up resulted in the next song being "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone" one of the songs on the aforementioned LP.
Myself, I was delighted that he did get around to singing all my favourite Steve Young compositions/renditions such as Utah Phillips' "Rock, Salt and Nails", "Seven Bridges Road" and "Lonesome On'ry and Mean", which Steve admitted writing, then discarding, only to have it picked up by Waylon Jennings and turned into a hit.
Steve's set ended about 10.45 and he sang 15 songs in all, most of them requests from the audience. See below for the complete the song list.
It was certainly good to see Steve Young, a legendary singer songwriter, perform locally - a rare treat in fact. The show on Friday night was sold out. Whether this was due to the appearance of Steve Young or not, any Steve fans who stayed on for Mary Gauthier - the crowd didn't dwindle at all - would have been blown away by Mary's set.
It was late - 11.30pm - by the time Mary Gauthier came on stage. As there was only room for standing, we were all a bit hot and footsore by then. But it was worth it!
She paused several times to allow Thomm Jutz to perform magic on guitar. He has been touring with Mary for some years, and Mary describes him as a saint. He certainly seemed imperturbable and played wonderfully on both acoustic and electric guitars as well as providing backing vocals.
Mary Gauthier's set covered only ten songs and lasted for a mere hour. It was disappointing that she could not have played for longer as I would have preferred to hear more of her than the other two acts. It was late by the time she finished, but we were left hungering for more.
As a live performer she certainly has a charismatic presence and was riveting to watch and hear. Her song writing is of the highest quality and she well deserves the accolades accorded to her by the likes of Bob Dylan.
Most of the
songs in the set were from the Mercy Now CD, including a sensational
Two songs from her sophomore disc Drag Queens in Limousines, the title song, where Thomm Jutz did a very creditable imitation of Willie Nelson's guitar style; and "Our Lady of the Shooting Stars" rounded out the set.
Streaming out into the still steamy night after the show, footsore but happy, I considered the show cheap at the price and well worth the effort, despite the crowded and stuffy atmosphere in the Band Room. The show was as hot as the weather. Let's hope Mary Gauthier returns to these shores soon and does a full show. I for one wouldn't miss it.
photos by Anne Sydenham