Lindi Ortega - Thekla, Bristol
This gig was supposed to be in the St Bonaventure’s Parish Social Club, but due to demand for tickets got upgraded to the equally quirky - but much bigger - boat on the river, Thekla. The upgrade of venue coincides with the rise of Lindi Ortega, which seems to have been pretty quick in the last six months, and even faster in the two weeks she’s been touring these shores.
In the last few days interviews and articles have been turning up in the broadsheets, and rave reviews for her UK shows are rife across the web. This may all seem like an overnight success but last November’s Tin Star is actually her third long player, one which showcased a growing awareness of what makes for a fine song. As one of the most interesting stars to come out of the alt.country scene in recent years, her live shows are a window into that point in an artist’s career where it’s taking off.
As interesting and engaging on stage as she is to talk to (read our interview with Lindi here), she banters with the crowd from the off (“I don’t think I’ve played on a boat before,”; “It’s that one about necrophilia,”; “The J.C. that I worship, rest in peace Johnny Cash.”). The gig has a strong leaning towards Tin Star which shows off her song writing chops, through the upbeat ‘Voodoo Mama’, the touching, melancholy ‘Tin Star’, as well as a touch of the self-confessed weirdness that Lindi brings to her music, on ‘Lived And Died Alone’.
In the flesh her voice has a real timeless quality, leading with traditional country yet capable of putting a contemporary spin on things, particularly her covers, ‘Desperado’ is straight forward enough, but ‘Ring of Fire’ is almost unrecognisable, and unscheduled finale ‘Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)’ is playful and a fitting end to a fun evening. Mention must also go to ‘Champagne’ James Robertson on lead guitar who adds colour and flourish to proceedings, with no little panache.
It’s easy to see why she has been getting so much press recently; Ortega's show is lively and well performed, and she’s authentically different. And there’s definitely not enough of that in a genre that too often doffs a cap to tradition and authenticity.