Gretchen Peters, Celtic Connections, The Mackintosh Church, Glasgow, January 31, 2016

 

While her first two albums were released to varying shades of indifference, according to Gretchen Peters, the Grammy nominee has gathered such a loyal and sizeable following in these parts that this was her second consecutive gig at Celtic Connections.

And it was a spirited set throughout with songs spanning the 20 years since the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member first visited Glasgow. Many she sang feature on the double CD, The Essential Gretchen Peters, released to co-incide with this Scottish tour.

There is a warming elegance about her and though her heartfelt songs may tackle tough topics, as you would expect, Peters massages them expertly, managing to make some of them sound almost downright soothing. A finely balanced band that gave her space but edgy support when required takes a lot of the credit for the overall buzz and emotion of a seamlessly, tasteful, carefully-crafted set.

From last year’s hugely praised, Blackbirds, the title song is absorbing while When All You Got Is A Hammer was a raucous and infectious romp that would have graced the sweaty stage of a jam-packed bar let alone the dramatic and refined features of this venue. At the other end of the tempo/volume scale, she movingly selected When You Are Old from her 1996 debut album, The Secret of Life in a dedication to Sir Terry Wogan, as, she told us, he had been a great supporter of her music over the years.

The striking favourites, On A Bus To St Cloud and When You Love Someone, a co-write with Bryan Adams, were performed with intense style, affection and feeling, demonstrating the commitment Peters has to her art and, indeed, her audience. It was an altogether classy affair.

MIKE RITCHIE



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