Thank Folk For That have always celebrated Caitlin Rose. She’s a unique force of nature, off-kilter and less conventional than other proponents of the Nashville scene. You could say she was one of our first loves, prompting this site to exist in the first place, so it is only right that Caitlin will be our very last review.
This isn’t Caitlin Rose’s very first show back in the UK after her extended hiatus, but it feels like it. There’s a buzz of anticipation as she mounts the stage. It’s a sell-out this evening and the Deaf Institute is a bit sweaty to say the least, and so it should be; the Nashville-based singer-songwriter marked her return with one of the best albums of 2022 (CAZIMI), and despite the sense of nostalgia that runs through the entire evening, it is also a celebration for the future… ours, Caitlin’s and especially Stephen and Savannah’s, but more on that later!
‘Carried Away’ opens proceedings. It’s a gentle icebreaker and Caitlin appears completely at ease with the new material as you’d expect, and two thirds of the evening is dedicated to the best cuts from the record. Us Manchester lot, particularly fans of Caitlin’s brand of alt-country/Americana can be quite an introverted bunch to be honest. It’s all about the music, and the less-than-interactive nature of the audience has always thrown her occasionally. She addresses this with amusing anecdotes and quirky Terminator-related preambles to tracks like ‘Nobody’s Sweetheart’ and the ‘Black Obsidian’, but her well-acknowledged nervous energy gives the evening a bit more of an unpredictable spirit. We certainly don’t like our favourite artists to just go through the motions here in Manchester; this accusation could certainly never be levelled at Caitlin Rose.
She’s surrounded herself with a bunch of completely sweet and talented musicians that compliment the shifts in tone as the show progresses; she’s always had a penchant for a cover and this time it is Jason Molina’s iconic but more cynical ‘Nashville Moon’. Considering the new album’s astrological contexts, this makes complete sense. The new album concludes with the incredible ‘Only Lies’ but there are multiple versions that you can explore that differ to the one on record; this evening Caitlin treats us to a more stripped back, subtle rendition, but this allows her vocals to surface with even more impact. There’s something sombre about the track and the band’s more subtle backing reinforces this. It seems to hint towards previous years, relationships and experiences, ultimately suggesting a kind of ‘fuck it, move on’ sensibility that she’s always exuded.
“What’s the difference between a hard-on and a Camero” she asks before the final stretch of the evening. “I don’t have a Camero…” We never get to hear the rude limerick she hinted at, but she certainly seems excited to return to some of the choicest cuts from the two records that resulted in her pretty much residing in the UK for a couple of years between 2011 and 2013. A fragile ‘Own Side’ gets the ball rolling before the more vivacious ‘Shanghai Cigarettes’ allows Caitlin and the band to let their hair down.
There’s been a bit of surreptitious planning on the part of Caitlin for the final moments of this evening. Earlier, she asks bar staff to get some pink champagne on ice. No surprise there perhaps, but she asks if there is a Stephen and Savannah in the room. At the back two hands nervously rise and we’re informed that the couple met at Caitlin’s Manchester show ten years ago. Today they were married! Caitlin beckons them towards the stage and they nervously enter a parting section of the floor before Caitlin delivers the most sensational rendition of ‘Pink Champagne’ for their first dance. This is an incredible moment for the new couple, but is elevated to something truly indelible as Caitlin struggles to maintain her poise, clearly on the verge of tears as she sings for the newly-weds.
How do you top that? Unplugging, this wonderful Nashville troubadour perches on the edge of the stage, only inches from yours truly to sing ‘Sinful Wishing Well’, accompanied by a pretty majestic-sounding fan, right of stage. And so ended one of the most delightful moments in Thank Folk For That’s existence. Thank you for the memories Caitlin. Thank you for the memories everyone. That’s all folks!
Words & Images – Iain Fox