First up was songstress Jody Glenham for a stripped down set, with her acoustic guitar and backed just by an electric guitar. Her set had almost a coffee-house vibe, with a collection of low-key, but heartfelt songs. The focus of which was definitely Glenham's strong voice that was simultaneously soft and beautiful, yet powerful. Highlights were the haunting "Gypsy Babe" and the last song of the set, which I didn't catch the name of, but was a bit more upbeat and higher energy than the rest -- an energy that was not necessarily missing from the rest of the set, but would have been a welcome addition.
Prairie Dance Club took the stage next, with a pretty straight ahead country/roots-rock sound. There wasn't much banter or interaction, just a set of solid and boot-stomping songs, including a cover of Tom Petty's "Honey Bee". It was a rockin' set, and while there was really nothing to fault from the band, there wasn't much that really stuck out either; perfectly acceptable music that kept the night rolling.
And finally, rounding out the night was Steph Macpherson, with a backing band that included Mike Edel and Jason Cook on bass and drums, respectively. She started off with the first two songs off her album Bells & Whistles, the title track and "Bent & Unkind", both good examples of her heartfelt and vulnerable lyrics.
Part way through the set the guys took a rest while Steph performed a couple songs acoustic, "The Distance" from the new album and "Letters" from her prior EP; both heartbreaking and beautiful songs, showing off Steph's rich voice. The rest of the band was back out to join her and ramp up the energy for the end of the set, the powerful "The Verdict" and the insanely infectious "Summer Salute", getting the crowd clapping along before the one-song encore, a pretty strong cover of CCR's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?"
When I first saw Steph in the Peak Performance Project a couple years ago, I liked her, but thought she was just missing that "edge" to set her apart from all the other female-folk-songer-songwriters. Since then -- and with the new album -- she has definitely gone a long way to refining that edge, and if she keeps on the path she's on, she could be on her way to being the next Kathleen Edwards or Sarah Harmer.
Bells & Whistles, Bent & Unkind, Silver Platter, Keeping Time, The Distance, Letters, Best of Us, The Verdict, East, Summer Salute.
(encore) Have You Ever Seen The Rain? [CCR cover]