Patty Griffin at Union Chapel
There’s an electric atmosphere in the Union Chapel tonight. A sold-out audience of all ages and backgrounds wait with anticipation to see their heroine, American singer, Patty Griffin. She embodies country blues, a guitar toting, foot-stamping wordsmith who wears her heart on her sleeve. Earlier this year Griffin released her seventh studio album to considerable acclaim: American Kid is a highly personal collection of songs written largely about her father.
The show tonight is a masterclass in duelling guitars. There’s a country blues undertone to most songs, but also Spanish, Far Eastern sounds and jazz. David Pulkingham completes a perfect musical partnership with Griffin with an exceptional understanding of her lyrical inflections, tone and volume. He helps to create a big sound, filling the chapel with nothing more than two guitars, two beautiful intertwining voices and two pairs of stamping feet that render a drum kit obsolete.
Don’t Let Me Die in Florida is dark melancholy blues with a title borrowed from a plea by Griffin’s late father; Waiting for My Child oozes raw emotion; Ohio, the lead single from American Kid (which features a collaboration with Robert Plant on the album version) is a standout track combining rich soulful lyrics with a distinct country guitar twang as Griffin’s guitar sounds off against Pulkingham’s. Griffin demonstrates her range with playful spoken word on Stay on the Ride, and The Strange Man from her gospel album is perfect for her gravelly uplifting vocal. The held notes on Chief seem to go on for minutes amid celebratory cries from the audience, and Top of the World rises over the ground floor audience and those seated in the balcony right to the roof of the Chapel. Griffin comes into her own on No Bad News, beating her guitar and the floor beneath her feet into submission while Pulkingham hits the tambourine with equal force, resulting in a sound so vast that it belies the number of people on stage.
The setting of Union Chapel is harmonious with the occasion as it starts filled with late evening sun and ends dimly lit, with candles around the balcony and soft shades of blue and red washing over the stage. Griffin even stops to comment on how dark the Chapel has become – leaving her at the centre of attention – and draws a warm laugh from the audience who have been entranced by her from the moment she walked on stage.
Photo: Katie Harris
For further information and future events visit Patty Griffin’s website here.
Watch the video for Ohio here: