AMERICAN singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters was back before a devoted crowd at Wimborne’s Tivoli, days after announcing that she would be retiring from regular touring next year.
She picked up a dose of vertigo at the start of this leg of her 2022 UK tour, and was forced to sit for much of the set, but sitting made no difference either to the power of her songs or her warmly intense delivery. Husband, arranger, pianist and accordionist (or perhaps typist?) Barry Walsh and friend and opener Kim Richey joined with regular band members Colm McClean and Conor McCreanor to make sure Gretchen was supplied with everything needed to make this another memorable gig. And the audience celebrated with the band the news that the new live album, recorded in the UK in 2019, had vaulted to No 2 in the charts on release.
The show was opened by Kim Richey, with her beautiful voice and songs of what’s now called “relatable” real life.
Gretchen Peters’ songs encapsulate a view of the USA that is the primer and undercoat for the familiar view of the country – what goes on in rural backwaters and distant towns, the places our dreams and nightmares take us, the biting reality of the skeletons of the American Dream. Her picturesque lyrics and insistent tunes are as vivid as any movie, and she continues to deliver them with passionate conviction.
This was the singer who, in an agony of embarrassment, took her audience through the Trump times, and now emerges, dazed, from a lockdown whose effects will be felt for decades, around the world.
See her if you can, when you can. The last two dates of her final, 2023, UK tour are at Swindon and Exeter next May
Footnote: A member of the Heathrow security staff stopped Barry en route this year, and asked him if his very beautiful, antique, mother-of-pearl cased accordion (see pic, right) was a typewriter?