Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter kicks off her 2018 touring schedule on Tyneside in front of a packed out crowd at the Sage Gateshead.
Mary Chapin Carpenter has been somewhat of a frequent visitor to the Sage Gateshead in recent years, having performed in this very room on many occasions with both her full band, acoustic band, as well as with the Northern Sinfonia and Celtic Connections. Most recently Carpenter made a headline appearance at the 2016 SummerTyne Americana Festival.
Having visited the region in all seasons, by her own admittance the Virginia native is overwhelmed by the beautiful weather we’ve been experiencing on this May Bank Holiday Monday declaring that she expected the whole room to be wearing Hawaiian shirts. Today was most definitely not your typical example of North East weather.
Over the course of her distinguished career, Carpenter has sold in excess of 14 million records, as well as accumulating a vast trophy cabinet that includes five Grammy Awards, two CMA awards, two Academy of Country Music awards. Mary Chapin Carpenter is one of only fifteen female members of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Illuminated by twinkling lights at the rear of the stage, Carpenter takes to the stage accompanied by her world-class backing band of Johnny Duke on guitar, Nate Barns on drums and long-standing pianist/keyboard player Jon Caroll. Collectively they open the show with old favourites in the shape of “Hero In Your Home Town”, and a pair of tracks from her Number 1 Billboard Country album Stones In The Road including both the beautifully intricate “Why Walk When You Can Fly” and the title track itself.
Last year Mary Chapin Carpenter recorded her latest album Sometimes Just The Sky on this side of the pond in a studio located in the Cotswolds. This album being a collection of tracks from Carpenter’s much celebrated 30-year career in the music industry. Notably, the album features new recordings of some of Carpenter’s most beloved tracks.
Throughout the course of her 90-minute set, Mary Chapin Carpenter performs the lion’s share of her latest offering with many tracks from the album featuring during this the opening night of her current tour. This includes the heartfelt “Naked To The Eye”, the incredibly infectious slice of Americana “What Does It Mean To Travel” along with a spellbinding airing of “The Moon and St Christopher”. Each song in the set is accompanied by insightful backstories and somewhat witty banter.
“Superman” is one of the rarer cuts to feature in the performance from Carpenter’s latest release. This sincere love song was originally recorded during the Time* Sex* Love* album sessions but never made the final cut. The song went on to later be released as a B-side, but Carpenter has always dwelled upon this decision and subsequently, the track has finally found its place on Sometimes Just The Sky.
In the latter stages of the show Mary Chapin Carpenter ups the tempo somewhat with the lively jazz number “I Feel Lucky”, the slide infused country rock song “I Take My Chances” and her timeless classic “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” before the main set reaches it’s fitting finale with the Patti Smith-inspired title track of her new album itself. Carpenter and the band leave the stage to a well earned standing ovation from the Gateshead faithful.
Returning to the stage for a duly deserved two-song encore, Mary Chapin Carpenter rounds out an incredible night of music at the Sage Gateshead with fan favourite “The Hard Way”, featuring opening act Emily Barker on backing vocals and a show-stopping solo acoustic performance of her autobiographical number “I Have A Need For Solitude”.
Tonight’s show at the Sage Gateshead from one of Americana’s great singer/songwriters Mary Chapin Carpenter is the perfect conclusion to a glorious May Bank Holiday weekend here in the North East of England.
Event Date: 07-May-2018
Photo: Jonathan Stewart