Tuesday 25 April 2023

Caitlin Rose / Dominic Billett - Manchester Deaf Institute - 24th April 2023

Caitlin Rose made her long-awaited return to Manchester, a decade after her last visit to the city, for a sold-out show at the Deaf Institute to promote her Cazimi album. The evening ended with a very special celebration and then Caitlin playing a song unamped sat on the edge of the stage.

Dominic Billett opens up the evening, accompanied by Jerry on guitar, performing songs from his recently released albums, before heading to the back of the stage to play drums for Caitlin. His six song set is intense, something he acknowledges at a couple of points but the respectful crowd are generally attentive and listen to the intricate guitar sounds that the two of them create. He declares his love and fanboying around Richard Hawley before playing a cover of Seek It close to the end of his set where he leaves to rapturous applause. If only all crowds respected an artist like this.

The first two thirds of Caitlin's set is taken from Cazimi other than a cover of Magnolia Electric Co's Nashville Moon. The five-piece band - Caitlin on guitars, Chris on pedal steel, Dom on drums, Jerry on guitar and Brett on bass - recreate the country-tinged delicateness of the album beautifully, the battered music hall elegance of the Deaf Institute feeling like a perfect space for these songs. While Caitlin's name might be above the door, there's spaces where the musicians behind her are allowed to let loose, particularly on their cover of Magnolia Electric Co's Nashville Moon. As for Dom's support slot the crowd watch on in silence, a few women mouthing along to some of the more relatable moments. Caitlin does playfully tease the crowd about them being quiet between songs, having been on tour with more raucous audiences recently in the US.

The songs from Cazimi deal with, as Caitlin tells us with a wry laugh, Terminator boyfriends. She may be older and maybe wiser, but the song's themes haven't changed much over the years. Getting It Right may not have Courtney Marie Andrews but Jerry takes on the role of backing vocalist admirably. Whilst there's ten years, and longer for the songs off Own Side Now, between Cazimi and the older songs that come later on, there's a beautiful symmetry and continuity between them that's accentuated by the intuitive connection between Caitlin and her band.

Caitlin is very self-deprecating, asking us who our favourite muppet is before How Far Away before declaring she's been on Sesame Street for the past seven years and that's why the record has taken so long. She jokes about being sweaty after a long day which included visiting Marc Riley at 6 Music (hence the late 9.30 start), laughing like a donkey, Jerry having written Nobody's Meat Pie instead of Sweetheart on the setlist and having lost her ADHD medicine, or "safe coke" as she calls it. The crowd are smitten.

The most touching moment is though when she introduces a couple who met a decade ago at one of her shows and who got married earlier in the day. She invites them down to the front, asks the bar staff to get them a pink fizzy drink and they have their first dance to Pink Champagne in a circle space vacated by those close to the stage. She's on the verge of tears, has to step back before starting the song and finishes it with the broadest grin on her face.  She finishes the evening sat on the stage, legs in the audience, completely unplugged with a gentle singalong, complete with audience harmonies, of Sinful Wishing Well.

It's been ten years since we last saw Caitlin Rose in this city and releasing an album. Hopefully it won't be anywhere near that length of time before either happen again.

Caitlin Rose played Carried Away, How Far Away, Nobody's Sweetheart, Black Obsidian, Blameless, Getting It Right, Nashville Moon, Only Lies, Own Side Now, No One To Call, Shanghai Cigarettes, Pink Champagne and Sinful Wishing Well.

Caitlin Rose is on Twitter and Facebook. She plays Leeds Brudenell Social Club (April 25), Glasgow Stereo (26) and London Earth (28).


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