As a promoter in a previous lifetime, these nights would be the ones I’d look forward to most. Sold-out, great support, even better headliner, and a fantastic atmosphere…lovely stuff! And down at the Deaf Institute in Manchester last night, Courtney Marie Andrews was ready to keep the good vibes going throughout the evening with her beautiful, country and Southern soul masterpieces
The aforementioned support came from the brilliant Will Stratton, and while we weren’t able to catch the majority of the set, knowing Stratton’s music we’re certain he will have put on a belting performance for the Manchester crowd
Andrews then stepped out, with accompanying band of drummer, bass, guitar and keys player. The 25 year-old from Phoenix, Arizona tells us of days on the road, having been touring since the age of 16 with various acts as a backing singer, from Jimmy Eat World to Damien Jurado. She also notes that her last show in Manchester (or Chorlton – pronounced by Andrews in a London accent, bless her – to be precise), was the busiest of her previous UK tour, with a crowd of 20! But now, with a sold-out show, Andrews’ confidence grew and grew with each track.
Working through a set of 20+ songs, her performance allowed for various dips into past, current and future material, playing tracks from her stunning January-released record Honest Life, as well as her 2013 effort On My Page, which receives its re-release here in the UK this very day. The extensive set also allowed for a few changes in lineup, with Andrews performing with the full band, guitarist and keys only, and solo. Her only mistake actually came during one of these changes, when Andrews proceeded to introduce her band when two of them were missing!
Nevertheless, no matter which members of the band were on stage, each track was performed as sensationally as the last. When the stage was full, Andrews and co. ripped through the likes of How Quickly Your Heart Mends, crowd-favourite Irene and new track Near You, which tugged at the heartstrings before a pulsating crescendo led to a glorious solo from guitarist Dillon Warnek. It was when Andrews was alone on stage however, that the truly magical moments happened. The first highlight came when the 25 year-old discussed President Trump, hinting at her own personal views simply by stating that ‘as a woman’ we could probably guess which way she leaned. Andrews explained that in the hours following the election, she sat down and wrote the incredible Heart And Mind. Her performance of this track was simply jaw-dropping, and left the crowd in stunned silence as the final plucks of her guitar strings echoed out.
New tracks were also introduced to us throughout the set, including Kindness Of Strangers, which Andrews declared will be on a forthcoming record which is currently in pre-production. If this track and performance were anything to go by, the new album is set to be pretty exceptional…here’s hoping!
After the last notes of Irene rang out and the band left the stage for a cheeky will-they-won’t-they moment, Andrews returned alone for the encore. This is when highlight number two occurred, as the Arizonian launched into a sensational track titled Rough Around The Edges. Unfortunately, she did not divulge whether this previously unheard number was a new one and/or set to feature on the forthcoming record, but my goodness what a performance. One can only hope that we will be hearing that little belter again! With the band now back on stage, the night then came to a close through a fantastic rendition of Put The Fire Out, taken from her most-recent record Honest Life. In the song, Andrews states that she’s ‘ready to be found’. It seems clear that in the coming months, she’ll be found by more and more, and after 10 years of travelling and writing songs, Courtney Marie Andrew’s effortless vocals and exceptional songwriting are set to be discovered, and celebrated, on a global scale.