Last.fm recently alerted me to an upcoming gig, so I asked my now-former colleague (who is annacdotes but hasn't posted since 2008) if she fancied going along.
We met at Ethiopian restaurant Addis, where I had a lamb dish by the name of 'Derek Tibs' - mostly for comedy name value, but it turned out to be very tasty.
Anna had seen Laura Cantrell live on several previous occasions, while I never had. We were equally excited.
The Water Rats is a strange venue for someone with actual successful albums under their belt (I think I last went there in the early '00s to see a gig by my then-housemates), but nicely intimate. By a combination of luck, cunning and ruthlessness, we trickled to the front and spent the evening a couple of metres away from the performers.
Support was James Walbourne, who had a scary face which made all his ballads come out rather threatening, even the ones that didn't end with the narrator murdering the girl.
"I think he thinks it makes him look soulful," Anna whispered.
"Soulful like a rapist," I suggested.
Nice playing, though, especially from his accomplice Rob on washboard.
Laura came on at nine, looking smaller and younger than I had expected and wearing a very lovely black velvet jacket with a sparkly brooch. She was, it transpired, fitting us in between arriving from Glasgow and leaving for New York.
I've been growing fonder of and more familiar with country music lately, thanks largely to Bob Harris on Radio 2, but there's a lot I don't know. Laura named some new names, like Bonnie Owens and Kitty Wells (her tribute album to the latter is out soon), and made these faded legends alive and interesting with her enthusiasm.
Although I gave an excited yelp at the numbers I recognised, I loved the new stuff too. Cantrell's voice and her songs are so exquisite and wry and sad that they make me feel all premenstrual, wound up like a top E string.
To make my happiness complete, the final song was my absolute favourite: 'The Whiskey Makes You Sweeter'. Here it is on Spotify:
She finished at a quarter past ten, which earns performers BIG GIG POINTS at my advanced age.