Gretchen Peters

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Gretchen Peters

Gretchen Peters

Posted: 26 Apr 2015

Sage Gateshead

22 March

Gretchen Peters’ first UK gig was in the North East 19 years ago. It’s been a slow rise and the 57-year-old New Yorker still plays Hall Two when she comes to The Sage, but this time it was standing room only at the back.  The mainstream aren’t likely to warm to an artist whose last album – the brilliant ‘Hello Cruel World’ – was by her own description her ‘existential crisis album’ while her new record, the magnificent ‘Blackbirds’ is according to Peters, her ‘death’ album. She tells her audience that there are people who find existential crisis and death depressing, ‘and then there’s us.’

Backed by her husband Barry Walsh on keyboards, multi-instrumentalist Christine Bougie and newcomer Conor McCreanor on bass, Gretchen played two sets, showcasing many songs from her new album in the first half. Given a five star review by The Daily Telegraph amongst much critical acclaim, ‘Blackbirds’ is a deep album worthy of the newest inductee into The Nashville Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.

As if to emphasise her pedigree, Peters’ hour-long second set includes only two from her ‘best of’ album. The first was the 1995 Country Music Association Song of the Year, ‘Independence Day’. This was a big hit for Martina McBride, herself one of a stellar list of people to record songs by Peters along with Bryan Adams, Neil Diamond Bonnie Raitt, Trisha Yearwood and Faith Hill.

Having rarely touched even the fringes of the charts herself, Gretchen Peters has just made Number One in the Country charts and even the lower reaches of the top 40. It’s about time that the wider public began to realise how talented a singer-songwriter she is and right now she’s at her peak.

Rob Mason

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