Artist: My Darling Clementine
Venue: The Square Tower, Old Portsmouth
Date: 29th September 2013
From the moment the band came on stage, easing effortlessly into theslick intro of “I Bought Some Roses”, and Lou Dalgleish and Michael Weston King made an ironically fitting grand showbiz entrance together down the central isle of the Square Tower, there was a palpable sense of something special in the air. And so it proved, as My Darling Clementine captivated us with a performance that was in equal measures joyful and melancholy but ultimately hugely rewarding and entertaining.
The astonishing success (on both sides of the Atlantic) of the debut album “How Do You Plead” has afforded the King / Dalgleish songwriting axis a well deserved kudos, and a tangible confidence in their own art, that was evident for all to see. Yes, they do utilise what is essentially a traditional Country base as part of their remit, but that is infused with their own unique British take on the genre which in turn has spawned the equally compelling follow up album “The Reconciliation”.
And this evening, we were treated to liberal helpings from both offerings.
“Going Back To Memphis” rocks the 20 foot thick walls of this ancient monument as if a cannonball from an invading Spanish armada had just hit it – Michael and Lou trading verses between knowing smiles, uniting gloriously in harmony, with Martin Belmont’s guitar licks vying for prominence with Al Cook’s aching pedal steel solo.
Michael and Lou’s engaging personalities, and witty stage banter, brings the audience closer to and into the songs themselves. We feel the raw emotion in “I Can’t Live With You (When You Can’t Live With Yourself)”, the painful torment of “Our Race Is Run” and the helpless despair of “Departure Lounge”.
Lou Dalgleish draws eyes centre stage resplendent in crinoline wedding dress and veil, but it’s her shimmering voice that sparkles and shines. Here is a woman that can rock it with the best of them when the song demands (“The Gospel According To George”), but then turn on a fragility (“Unhappily Ever After”) that can be breathtaking in it’s latent honesty. Ally this to Michael’s stridently dulcet vocal tones, and it’s easy to see why the press make flattering (and deserving) comparisons with George and Tammy.
A noisy and appreciative crowd won’t let the band leave the stage at the close of their set, so it’s left to a raucously bouncing “100,000 Words” to bring the house down, the full 7 piece band cutting loose and giving full justice to what is, by anyone’s standards, a top quality collection of songs by artists that are at the very top of their game.
(photos courtesy of Donna Brown ©2013)
“Thank you for Sunday – what a fantastic band and what a great night” (Steve Hender)
“Thanks again for another terrific night – MDC were brilliant” (Dan Ogus)