LIVE: The Annie Keating Band / Sean Duggan – Helmsley Arts Centre, 30/09/2022 4

LIVE: The Annie Keating Band / Sean Duggan – Helmsley Arts Centre, 30/09/2022

Seasons may come, and seasons may go but The Annie Keating Band live experience just keeps on rolling on. The Brooklyn-based singer and songwriter is quite clearly making up for lost time. Prevented from having been able to perform in public by the no little matter of the coronavirus pandemic, Keating eventually returned to live action back in April when embarking upon her European Spring tour. Now, only a few months later, she is back on these shores once again and tonight marked the seventh date on her Autumn tour of the UK and Ireland.

The location was that of Helmsley, the only market town in the North York Moors National Park. And the venue is Helmsley Arts Centre – a thriving performance venue for theatre, music, dance, talks, cinema, and live broadcasts, as well as exhibitions, classes and a range of creative activities for children – which opened 21 years ago and sits on what was the site of the town’s old Quaker Meeting House.

137 1
Helmsley Arts Centre

And perhaps Annie Keating and her excellent band – Scott Warman on double/electric bass, lead guitarist Joe Coombs, and Jamie Dawson on drums – had somehow absorbed some of that ancient spiritual energy as they treated us to a powerful performance ideally suited to such a warm, welcoming, and rarefied environment.

The evening’s planned schedule, though, had earlier been thrown a little off course when the support act – Sean Duggan, Connecticut native and frontman of the Oxford-based alt-country band Steady Habits – was unavoidably delayed in traffic en route to Helmsley. This meant that in a refreshing break with received live music wisdom The Annie Keating Band took to the Arts Centre stage first and played an initial set of eight songs which gave Duggan sufficient time to arrive at the venue. He then played his set – a delightful little interlude that included an impeccable cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘A Satisfied Mind’ – before stepping aside to let The Annie Keating Band return to close out the evening with a further seven songs.

Sean Duggan

There were old songs, there were new songs, drawn from across the Keating canon. There was the refined country air of the opener, the delightful title track from her 2008 album, Belmont, followed by the equally gentle strains of ‘For The Taking’, again taken from that self-same record. Her latest long player – last year’s impressive Bristol County Tides – was also well represented and the raucous ‘Hank’s Saloon’ proved that Annie Keating and her band can rock out when the need arises.

A brand new song, ‘Lies and Dynamite’ – co-written with Canadian singer-songwriter Lynne Hanson with whom Annie Keating shared the bill in England back in April – was sublime and augurs well for the road ahead.

The second set took up where the first left off as Annie Keating crisscrossed her back catalogue, expertly balancing the mood and the songs. We got the childlike joy and wonder of ‘Coney Island’ from her 2015 album Make Believing juxtaposed with Bristol County Tides‘Half Mast’ which embraces the darkness and despair of those early Covid days. A riotous ‘On The Loose’ during which, as Annie Keating accurately told us, the band “like to let our hair down” was followed, first, by the poignant ‘It Already Hurts When You Leave’ and then finally by a most moving interpretation of John Prine’s ‘Angel From Montgomery”. A perfect end to a perfect evening.

Annie Keating

Photos: Simon Godley

More photos from this show are here

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.