By Jake Paterson, First Year English
Performing songs from her 2020 album Old Flowers for the first time, Courtney Marie Andrews, alone on the stage, seemed at once a beacon of hope and a return home to a better way of life, bringing the crowd for the most part to absolute silence in awe of her presence.
As a venue used to accommodating classical and performative work, St George’s was perhaps the perfect venue for Andrews, of what was my first seated gig in some time, sat in church pews as if at a service and part of a congregation – with Kate Bush’s ‘Cloudbusting’ the hymn suitably playing through the pre-show playlist.
Collections of friends joined elderly couples and mothers with daughters in a celebration of togetherness, all gathered with long coats and scarves on what appeared to be the turn towards the winter cold.
The support came from a two-piece called Memorial in the style of Crosby, Stills & Nash, setting the tone of the clearance of anxiety, of warmth and of human connection as two voices become one through harmony. The song ‘Latchkey’ was particularly cathartic. During an interlude they suggest that “people come up to us and say ‘I cry to your songs’ and it’s so weird to take a sort of pleasure in that”.
Andrews came onto the stage to rapturous applause from an audience who remained so respectfully silent during the performance that between songs you could hear each string being tuned exactly, leading her to suggest that there are ‘no secrets in this room’. Having released a collection of poetry earlier this year, Andrews’ lyricism was starkly present throughout. Her performance laid bare each word into the hall followed by waves of guitar melody or contrasted with complete silence to leave them hanging between the space of you and the stage.
The highlight of the evening came down to when Andrews was joined by the musicians in Memorial to sing ‘Burlap String’ and ‘If I Told’, the latter stunning the room into silence. The pretext of the song was explained to centre around moments under the full moon – be that the craziest things Andrews has seen when working in a bar, or the friends who have taken her to the peak of a mountain to watch the sun set and the moon rise simultaneously – the photo of which made up the Old Flowers album cover. The song is a celebration of the friends and people that create moments such as this that unfolded in front of us.
For it truly seemed a celebration of sorts, Andrews playing ‘Songs for Tourists’ for the first time in the UK tour, returning with crowd favourites such as ‘Irene’ and ‘May Your Kindness Remain’, and for the encore, unplugging both mic and guitar, taking requests from the audience, and singing out directly to us as if we were an integral part of her performance, rather than as separate entities.
At the close the crowd rose to their feet in applause and the elderly couple sat next to me, who had been arm in arm for the whole show, embraced to complete a perfect evening – the sound of the performance carrying itself out into streets of the night.
Featured Image: Sonic PR
Have you seen Courtney Marie Andrews live?