Gig Review: Caitlin Rose at the Barfly, Camden Town, London
Caitlin Rose attracted an audience of all ages to her sold-out performance at The Barfly. A too-short set of around 50 minutes was nevertheless enthusiastically received, and she did enough to consolidate her position as one of the brightest of country’s rising stars.
Dressed in leather jacket, jeans and leather boots, and swigging from a bottle of beer, she exuded a sort of punky arrogance that belies the sensitive insights of many of her songs. Her habit of looking skywards when singing made her seem almost bored at times, but it is probably just the way she concentrates, for she was in good voice, and had some engaging and spontaneous between-songs banter.
Her band for the evening, consisting of guitar, bass, drums and pedal steel, all look as young if not younger than her – some of them don’t look old enough to vote. It’s the pedal steel which is so intrinsic to her sound, and didn’t disappoint. Perhaps it was a touch of youthful inexperience which led them to trample a bit over some of the early songs in the set. “Own Side”, which was played second, was the prime example of a song which didn’t get the sensitivity and delicacy it deserved. By contrast, the more upbeat “Shanghai Cigarettes” benefited from this robust treatment, getting a rousing reception for what was probably the best performance of the evening.
The show was dominated by songs from last year’s debut album “Own Side Now”. The only song not from that album that she sang was her cover of Randy Newman’s “Marie”, which she has been performing for a while now.
Rose was apologetic for having no new material, which she attributed to the fact that she’d “been dating, so I can’t write anything”. She teased the crowd by reciting some lyrics from the one song that she has been working on, called “Eating Myself To Death”, for which so far she has some amusing tongue-in-cheek lyrics but no music.
Opening act on a three-act bill was Delta Maid, who provided proof - if proof was needed - that you don’t have to be American to play Americana. Delta Maid writes, sing and plays guitar left-handed. It’s evident from her between-songs chat that she’s from Liverpool, but her singing voice is radically different, with echoes of the Deep South from which she clearly takes her musical inspiration.
It was a shame that at an early stage in the evening only a meagre audience was there to hear her short set, with backing band, that included both her own compositions, such as “Broken Branches” and a couple of covers. She has a nice unpretentious stage manner, and even breathed some life into her version of Bruce Hornsby’s “The Way It Is”. Her debut album, due out in April, will be worth looking out for.