Learning to appreciate that which has been taken away from us is a lesson we’ve all had to learn in one way or another over the last couple of years, but the taste is all the sweeter once reunited with what was lost. Which might explain the heightened sense of anticipation and excitement that I sensed and shared here tonight within the splendid Town Hall at Kirton in Lindsey, Lincolnshire’s premier Americana music venue. Promoter, Brian Chudley has been bringing some of the genre’s finest artist here since 2012, and tonight is no exception, with the wonderful Lynne Hanson, who continues the fine tradition of Canadian singer songwriters, returning to its stage.
If the first words that Hanson spoke when she stepped up to the microphone for tonight’s gig had been on the lines of “at last”, or “finally”, it would have been fully understood by the audience here for it has taken three attempts and over two years to finally see her back on the stage she has graced no less than three times before. The original tour was planned to support the 2020 album ‘Just Words’, however, during the enforced restrictions, Hanson used the time to record its follow up, ‘Ice Cream in November’, due for release at the end of this month. It is no surprise therefore, that tonight’s show is primarily made up of songs from these two albums, with an early introduction to several tracks from the forthcoming album, including ‘Dominoes’ and ‘Hundred Mile Wind’, which whet the appetite for its pending release.
It is Important at this point to mention that Hanson is not alone on stage having guitarist and co-songwriter, Blair Michael Hogan along side who takes on the role of musical director, with a whole host of foot pedals at his disposal. Hogan plays what appears to be a Fender Telecaster throughout the show, so it comes as something of a surprise when Hanson points out there are no amplifiers. Everything is controlled through a lap top, with plenty fancy footwork from Hogan helping to create, at different times, a myriad of sounds. With so much depending on the technology, there was a certain irony as well as relieve that the only thing to malfunction was the tambourine.
On stage Hanson has a wonderful charm and disarming sense of humour, and if any of the between songs banter and jokes are well rehearsed they never sound contrived, but rather come across with a spontaneity and honesty that enchants. Her introduction to such new tracks as ‘Hip Like Cohen‘ and ‘Le Bon Moment’, a song sung in French, endear the audience to each track before a note has been heard, lifting them to a higher plateau as the music unfolds and the singing reveals the poetry and imagery of each song. Hanson is a fine singer whose voice is strong, soaked in experience, well capable of rocking out with the best, and yet on the quieter numbers of heartache and vulnerability there is always a sense of depth and hard earned wisdom.
After a bried fifteen minute break, during which time the audience have the chance to purchase the new album ahead of its release, the show continues with tracks from ‘Just Words’ such as ‘Long Way Home’ and ‘Hemingway’s Songbird’, nestling along side the title track from the new album. On ‘Ice Cream In November’s opener, ‘Shadowland’, the locals are encouraged to participate in the chorus, which they do with a fair level of gusto, creating a favourable impression on the duo, while during the intro to ‘Puzzle Pieces’ Hanson expands on her fascination, or should that read obsession, with pandas.
Before playing the final number, Hanson brings her acoustic guitar and joins the audience down front where she opens up about the emotional impact the pandemic has had on her as a performing artist deprived of an audience. The financial implications have been obvious to us all, but here Hanson explains, without any sense of self pity, the loss of purpose, loss of identity, the emptiness felt, after playing on Zoom to nothing but a deafening silence. The honesty and integrity portrayed in her voice as she shares the darkness of those days was as humbling as it was enlightening. However, rather than bringing the mood down, it appeared to bring audience and artist closer together, so that when Hanson sang the last number of the set, ‘Gotta Have rain’, there was an over riding sense of unity.
Hanson and Hogan return to the stage for the encore where they play a rousing rendition of the title track to the 2014 album ‘River of Sand’, before departing, and though the audience would have loved to hear more no one complained.
Paradise lost. Paradise regained.