Live Review: Courtney Marie Andrews – Celtic Connections, ABC Glasgow

In the cavernous auditorium of Glasgow’s 1,300 capacity nightclub, the O2 ABC, Courtney Marie Andrews could easily have cut a lonesome figure as she took the stage for her solo performance. However, any fears the neatly-seated audience may have held were assuaged by the time Andrews had finished her opening number, Rookie Dreaming, from her breakthrough album of last year, Honest Life.

Rather than being lost in the huge room, which just a couple of hours later would play host to an indie club night, Andrews’ powerful, emotive and captivating voice won the day. Apparently her first performance of 2018, this was a set that ran the gamut of Andrews’ entire back catalogue, including some rarities, as well as songs from her forthcoming release, May Your Kindness Remain. Some songs were so new they had ‘never been played for anyone before, other than in the studio’, such as the beautiful This Home and Border.

There was, as always in Glasgow, a suitable level of coercion and cajoling from those present – a perfect example being the volley of suggestions that flew from the audience when Andrews asked for the time. No doubt absolutely hilarious, had our American visitor been able to understand a single word (sadly an occurrence as regular as the encouraging shouts at gigs in the Dear Green Place).

For a brief period, controversy reined as Andrews declared her love for Tebay services or, as she put it, “the best gas station in the world”. Her short-lived allegiance to the 2016 Samworth Brothers Rural Action Award-winning rest stop was abruptly ended when Andrews discovered it was actually in England. “It’s the best gas station in the world, but it is in England so who cares” she quipped.

By the time Andrews wrapped up her set with a duo of new tracks from her new release, Rough Around The Edges and title-track May Your Kindness Remain, almost all had forgotten that the venue (which, some claim, houses ‘Europe’s biggest disco ball’, making it an even more surreal choice for the evening’s entertainment) wasn’t really built for solo performances of country music. By the encore (comprising of Irene and a new track apparently about “hopeful morality”), however, it was hard to imagine it ever being built for anything else.

James Beck