In what felt like a village church hall, complete with stackable chairs and a table at the back with refreshments, Jaimee Harris and Mary Gauthier took to the stage. Harris was opening, playing songs from her yet to be released album, ‘Boomerang Town’, the title track was an instant hit with the Manchester crowd. She had an endearing quality about her stage presence, and it wasn’t just her songs that were authentic and honest, she wore her heart on her sleeve as she addressed the audience too. A highlight was the song ‘Tattoo Zoo’ which had some clever lyrics throughout. Her voice was flawless and she remained professional as her guitar lead kept cutting out by she carried on the song, acapella at times.
Without taking a break, once she had finished sharing her own songs, Harris invited Mary Gauthier to the stage. The pair went straight into the song ‘I Drink’ their voices working perfectly together. The revered songwriter made the crowd feel at ease instantly as she chatted through the songs, taking us back to the time which she wrote them and playing some of her classic material as well as songs from her latest album. She took us back to 1999 for ‘Drag Queens in Limousines’ talking us through the success of it afterwards.
The audience hung on her every word as she told us about the book she’s written, ‘Saved by a Song’ and read from it on occasion, recounting tales of when she first arrived in Nashville. She made use of her Harmonica skills in ‘The Meadow’ one of those songs taken from her new album. The crowd listened intently to the stories behind ‘The War After The War’ a song written by Gauthier with soldiers wives, again the lyricism was truly something to be marvelled at. She was personable and funny, delivering each tune with strength and intent in a wonderfully intimate setting.
Gauthier is one of the best songwriters of her generation, I felt honoured to be in that room, surrounded by just a few fans as she shared her stories with us but she deserved a larger crowd. Anyone unfamiliar with Gauthier’s songs needs to do their homework as I’m sure there will be at least one of her songs from her catalogue that will speak directly to your heart.