I used to think I didn't like country music (apart from the Eagles, obviously). That was before I started tuning in to Bob Harris, whose gentle enthusiasm could win anyone over to the dark side. He's cost me a bob or two over the years, what with CDs and gigs I would otherwise have been unaware of, and the latest manifestation of this has been Kacey Musgraves. When two songs, played a week apart, both made me smile and turned out to be from the same album, I ponied up for Same Trailer, Different Park, and when Bob mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Kacey would be appearing at the Shepherd's Bush Empire on Sunday July 6th, I snapped up a ticket.
I'm glad I did.
The opening act, against a desert backdrop and three stylised cacti, was John & Jacob, a couple of nice country boys who bounced around the stage with massive energy, showing off their skinny legs. They got a nice welcome and rattled through their set. After the interval, the lights went out, the cacti lit up in pink, green and orange neon, and Kacey took the stage to the sound of the theme from that Western movie (yeah, you know, that one).
She had very long hair, a big dress, and a five-piece backing band wearing hats Bob Dylan would envy. The gig was a mixture of songs from the album (one of which suddenly went reggae and segued into Don't Worry Be Happy), tracks that didn't make the cut but were great anyway, and a couple of covers. Like many American performers, she praised English audiences, although she complained about our bacon ("You guys have, like, a lockdown on bacon! It's like ham, I'm like, what the f*ck is with this bacon?", to which someone in the audience shouted a recommendation of pork scratchings). She even threw 'and London, England too' into the list of US states in My House, an ode to trailer travel.
For the encore, the band emerged on to a darkened stage wearing jackets festooned with twinkling lights, to be joined by Kacey in hotpants and matching light-up go-go boots. To my utter joy, she launched into a cover of These Boots Are Made for Walkin'! This was followed by Follow Your Arrow, the song that convinced me to buy her album, and rounded off by an a capella Happy Trails with lovely harmonies from the boys in the band.
Here's Follow Your Arrow:
"So make lots of noise, kiss lots of boys
Kiss lots of girls if that's something you're into
When the straight and narrow gets a little too straight, roll up a joint (or don't)
And follow your arrow wherever it points"