When we last ran into Laura Cantrell, a couple months ago, for her sold-out show at McCabe's Guitar Shop, in Santa Monica we mentioned that 14th Street, from her latest release, Humming by The Flowered Vine (matador), was to be celebrated as the ultimate stalker anthem of all time. Returning to the Los Angeles stage for the first time since McCabe's, Cantrell noted when introducing 14th Street, that her friend Emily Spray had written it after seeing none other than Richard Hell on (and surreptitiously following him along - surely - not just imagined?) 14th Street, which for us is all the more exciting. Does that happen to Richard Hell the whole time, even now? Having said that, we'd been too lazy to stalk Mr. Hell to a very rare West Coast reading the previous evening at Book Soup. But it does remind me of a nice little Edwyn Collins anecdote from Mr. Lake. He'd had attended a Richard Hell reading in London, oh, back sometime before Edwyn's international comeback hit 'A Girl Like You'. Anyway, Collins was in attendance, and Mr. Lake acknowledged him, probably with a nod, or a raised eyebrow, or a mention of his one man Fullerton fan club, to which Edwyn replied, "I didn't think people still remembered me." International second-hand stalking of the finest kind.
Appearing at the El Rey Theatre, which is at-once, pretty and barn-like. As soon Cantrell took the stage and as soon as she spoke, I felt completely transported - where to, I don't know for sure, to Asheville, NC, maybe, somewhere I imagine its like Bourbon Street only with Bluegrass and Country coming out of every bar on Main Street. Not on Sundays, of course. Certainly I was taken far from the EL Rey's Miracle Mile locale of Wilshire Blvd. I think only an Atari Teenage Riot show transported me so in recent years.
Early on, 'Not the Trembling Kind' is the first of many perfect pop songs. Not the "I'll take my lumps and cut your brake pipes" country fare in the least. The Trembling Kind is so lyrically exhilarating in its refusal to acquiesce. And then of course, Cantrell's voice, burly, playfully-kitten-sweet and defiant. Not taking flight but standing its ground. As Jeff Lynne might say, it's a livin' thing.
The band, as ever, featuring Jeremy Chatzky on bass, Jimmy Ryan , mandolin and Mark Spencer , acoustic guitar and lap steel, astonish and simply please. No drummer, but maybe one night they'll turn up with one in tow and light up somewhere like the Troubadour - surely a more appropriate venue. Those of us at the El Rey will recall this show as rocknroll bores do, "It was like seeing the Beatles before RIngo, Oasis before Zack Starkey, Doris Troy before... " well you get the picture.
They'd probably have to get a roof rack for the car though.
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