August 2, 2017
Thousand Island is The Garage’s sister venue but there’s not much family resemblance. Instead of dark and cavernous, it’s bright and airy with hot pink panelling and mirror balls everywhere. Juanita Stein’s tour manager saw this church hall disco aesthetic through American eyes, describing it as an eight grade prom.
Juanita Stein brought an American perspective to the room too. America is not just the title of her album and its closing track, but also its guiding ethos. The searching lyrics explore the landscape and the American condition in intimate detail; at times she stares it right in the eyes and sees through to its soul.
All the great plains wandering and open road driving of the record were expressed live by the band through skillful instrumentation. A fine cowboy hat was a fine touch.
Of course, Stein herself was the real draw. A short set of new tracks can be a tough sell, but her electric stage presence made every song compelling to the enraptured crowd. Although the album is new, Stein is not new at this and the confidence gained through years of touring in The Howling Bells shone through.
To be fair, with a vocal range from angelically sweet to seriously seductive, she could sing the phone book and make it sound luscious. Luckily, her songs were worthy of her incomparable delivery. Highlights included Stargazer, Someone Else’s Dime and the powerful track Florence.
Missed this show? Don’t worry, you didn’t miss out. Juanita Stein coming back to the UK and Ireland in September, and and then returning in November to support THE KILLERS!! Head to juanitastein.com for the tour dates.
Here’s my review of Juanita Stein’s album, America, which is out now.
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