Saturday 11 May 2013

Loudon Wainwright at the Sage, Gateshead - review by Terry Kelly

Loudon Wainwright III at the Sage, Wednesday 8 May 2013

AMERICAN troubadour Loudon Wainwright III likes to joke that "death and decay" are his main songwriting obsessions these days.

But in truth, there's far more to the 66-year-old musical master than jokes about the Grim Reaper.

As a fan for more than 40 years, I've seen Wainwright in concert numerous times, but his gig at The Sage revealed a new side to his stagecraft.

Promoting his latest album, Older Than My Old Man Now, Wainwright punctuated the concert with readings from his late father's columns for Life magazine.

His word-perfect recitations were not only an amazing feat of memory, but also a moving reflection on a father-son relationship which has often fed his songwriting muse.

Wainwright also delighted yours truly by pulling out some archive classics from a career stretching back to his 1970 debut album, including Prince Hal's Dirge, Whatever Happened To Us and Red Guitar.

But he also treated us to some new songs, including Man With a Dog in the City and Back In Your Town, proving his unique songwriting skills remain finely tuned.

He also dedicated Five Years Old to his now very much grown-up songwriter daughter, Martha Wainwright, who celebrated her birthday on the same day as her father's gig at The Sage.

Highlights included the haunting Dead Man, the family saga, Half-Fist, White Winos, Human Cannonball and the old Marty Robbins' song, At the End of a Long Lonely Day, where he duetted with another daughter, Lucy Wainwright Roche, who was the support act and provided warm vocal harmonies throughout a very special show.

Terry Kelly

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