When I read that Margo Price was coming to Dublin I bought a ticket instantly. I had only heard one or two songs at that point and did not own a copy of her excellent album 'Midwest Farmer's Daughter' yet. There was a buzz about her though and I felt I had to go and see her.
For those who have not heard the back story: Margo is indeed a Midwest farmer's daughter who dropped out of school and moved to Nashville, where she worked odd jobs, started doing music and met her husband. She had her share of hardships. The death of a baby drove her to drink and depression and she even spent time in prison. She pawned her wedding ring and sold her car to be able to record her album in Memphis' Sun Studios.
After many rejections none other than Jack White decided he liked the album and it was released on Third Man Records. It scored high in many end-of-year lists and if there was any justice Margo should have been nominated for a Grammy alongside Sturgill Simpson.
So I found myself in the Button Factory in Temple Bar on a Sunday night. The stage was set up for the main act - 'Margo Price' written on the bass drum, a pedal steel to the right. It was only when an unassuming guy with a guitar walked on stage that I realised there was going to be a support act. He started playing and I found myself thinking that he was uncommonly good. After a few songs he mentioned that he was Margo's husband. Jeremy Ivey then played what he said he considered his best song, 'Loner', and I could not agree more. It sounded like something Townes Van Zandt could have written. Margo joined him for two songs and they duetted wonderfully.
The headline show was fantastic. Margo was accompanied by a superb band compromising drums, bass, electric guitar and pedal steel. Margo herself played acoustic guitar and tambourine and Jeremy dropped in and out on guitar and harmonica. They played a total of 18 songs including most of the album, as well as some newer songs, including the great 'It ain't drunk driving if you're riding a horse', written by friend of theirs who holds down a day job in a grocery store, as per Margo.
Highlight of the show was her masterpiece 'Hands Of Time'. What a song that is.. It got a prolonged ovation from the crowd. And even if Margo had not lived the life and written such great songs, she could have made it as a singer alone, which was particularly evident on her cover of Dolly Parton's 'Jolene'. She also covered Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and the band did a lovely version of Bob Dylan's 'Nashville Skyline Rag'.
The encore included 'Me and Bobby McGee', which I particularly enjoyed as I had listened to my one and only Kris Kristofferson CD only a few days earlier, following the rumour that he will fill this year's Glastonbury legend slot (yes please!). A friend of mine who saw Margo last year had said he enjoyed her show but that rapport with the audience was a little lacking. I can only presume that her confidence has grown as this successful tour continues. Perhaps not as natural a stage presence as her husband, Margo nonetheless addressed the audience frequently and also came down into the crowd to sing and dance from there towards the end.
Gig of the year so far! If I come across a better one I shall report back, but this will take some beating.