Steve Young & Mary Gauthier
Northcote Social Club - 19 January 2007

Mary Gauthier with Thomm Jutz - Northcote Social Club 19/1/07

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.

Steve Young live at NSC 19/1/07

Steve Young had no sooner stepped onto the stage, than an audience, all too familiar with his repertoire, confronted him with requests. If he had a set list in mind, this was quickly thrown away as audience requests were swiftly executed. First off the rank was "Renegade Picker" followed closely by "Ragtime Blue Guitar".

He paused briefly to introduce the next song as being about coal mining. This turned out to be Billy Edd Wheeler's "Coal Tattoo".

Before performing "Alabama Highway" Steve remarked that he'd tried packing cotton before deciding to become a musician. Thankfully, this decision has provided the world with a great singer and songwriter.

In another revelation from the past, Steve introduced the "White Trash Song" by saying it was inspired by some of his cousins in Georgia. They apparently called themselves by that term, though it meant something different in those days.

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!

Mary Gauthier accompanied by guitarist Thomm Jutz was fascinating to watch perform.

Her set opened with the first track from her Mercy Now CD, "Falling Out of Love" which is permeated with a moody dark atmosphere and has vividly pictorial lyrics.

Dressed in tattered jeans, a floral jacket and wearing rose coloured spectacles, Mary presented a cool picture for a hot steamy night.

Her next song was a new one, I believe, which will hopefully be included on her next CD whenever it comes out. She also sang another new song later, which was inspired by the Cyclone Katrina catastrophe in New Orleans, a place close to her heart and home.

There was great appreciation for her best-known song "I Drink" the audience singing along to it, much to Mary's obvious amusement.

Mary Gauthier live at NSC 19/1/07

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 rendition
- considering that the accompaniment was two guitars instead of a full band - of "Wheel Inside The Wheel" to a New Orleans "Mardi Gras" beat.

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.

Song Lists

1. Renegade Picker
2. Ragtime Blue Guitar
3. Coal Tattoo
4. Alabama Highway
5. White Trash Song
6. I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone
7. Rock, Salt & Nails
8. The Cry of the Wild Goose
9. Montgomery in the Rain
10. Ramblin' Man
11. Lonesome, On'ry & Mean
12. Seven Bridges Road
13. Home Sweet Home Revisited (Rodney Crowell cover)
14. Peyote Chant
15. East Virginia

1. Falling Out of Love
2. New song (untitled)
3. I Drink
4. Prayer Without Words
5. Our Lady of the Shooting Stars
6. Just Say She's a Rhymer
7. New song (untitled about New Orleans)
8. Drag Queens in Limousines
9. Wheel Inside The Wheel
10. Mercy Now - Encore

Review and photos by Anne Sydenham

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