Laura Cantrell is by far my best independent music find. Ever. And last night (11/10) was the much anticipated Laura Cantrell show at Mercury Lounge with a vocal but very friendly crowd. Overall, I have to say that I think the concert was a mixed bag. The texting on stage pre-set, thousand mile stare, and forgetting some words to Don’t Break the Heart were disappointing and the band did not seem particularly tight. But after Laura warmed up and got more comfortable on stage (about the time of the new Can’t Wait), she was sublime. The first minute or so of Bees was breathtaking. After that it was all guitar all the time as Mark Spencer was smothering the mandolin rifs like Waffle House grits. Others with me thought they were interweaving beautifully, but I felt there was a little alpha-male action on the part of the Spencer as I did the first time I saw Laura (at the now defunct Mo’ Pitkins House of Satisfaction), but it could just be me.
Regardless, the show was not a disappointment. Yonder Comes a Freight Train was blistering and was the best combination of vocals and virtuosic bluegrass guitar I’ve ever seen (Kentucky Thunder’s Cody Kilby had Mark Spencer beat for sure, but no one can beat Laura’s purity on pipes). Bees as I said began wonderfully and was an amazing contrast to the pace and mood of Freight Train. The set continued strong but never hit those highs again. The “encore” of Trains and Boats and Planes, Two Seconds, and Not the Tremblin’ Kind, however, was an especially nice way to finish off the night.
Overall, I’m glad I went. I got to hear some new tunes from her upcoming EP and the warmth of her voice was just awesome at moments. I’ll still be looking forward to seeing the band on tour with some more practice under their belts after they release the EP some time next year.
Laura Cantrell – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Mark Spencer – Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Electric Dobro?, Something Else Like a Dobro, and Vocals
Jimmy Ryan – Mandolin and Vocals
Marc Goulding – Drums
Jeremy Chatsky – Bass Guitar
Laura’s Set List:
- Churches Off the Interstate
- Don’t Break the Heart
- Pile of Woe
- Can’t Wait (new – co-written with Amy Allison)
- Smiling Down (new – co-written with Jimmy Ryan)
- Silver Winds (on upcoming EP – by Merle Haggard)
- 14th Street
- All the Same
- Yonder Comes a Freight Train
- Old Downtown
- Trains and Planes and Boats
- Two Seconds
- Not the Tremblin’ Kind