Alison Krauss and Union Station, The Sage Gateshead, 5.11.2011

It seems ironic that AKUS have been going for 25 years and have finally seemed to have achieved recognition while being relatively inactive. Mostly down to, in effect, her collaboration with Robert Plant. Tickets were double the price of her last appearance and it shows how their profile has soared when they have no less than 4 nights booked at the Festival Hall. They started out with the title track from ‘Paper Airplane’ and anyone who bought (and liked ) the cd will have been well pleased with the set list. The first half featured older songs such as ‘Daylight’ and ‘Baby, Now That I’ve Found You’, and I personally was well pleased to hear the word ‘bluegrass’ in her first words.  I can’t believe I would be using the word ‘disappointed’ in the same sentence as the words ‘Alison’ and ‘ Krauss’ but the last time they were here, I felt they should have been called ‘Jerry Douglas and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas’. The wonderful Ron Block on banjo seemed to be overlooked. This performance seemed to to hanker back more to their late 90s shows, and , yes, bluegrass.

Half-time approached with the intro to Mr Douglas. Yes, there are now more than 7 billion people on the planet and yes, Jerry is probably better on the dobro than all of them, but can’t they just make a sign and an arrow pointing to him, rather than a dobro solo!? Just my opinion though. ‘The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn’ and ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’ showed off Dan Tyminski and the show came to a close with a breathtaking 15 minutes in bluegrass , all-round-one-mic mode. A snatch of Brad Paisley’s ‘Whiskey Lullaby’ , a touch of gospel and off to buy my (overpriced) birthday T-shirt. No ”Jacob’s Dream’ though, maybe because it would add serious weight to Ms Krauss’s comments about sad songs!

A great show by a truly stellar bunch of musicians who are absolutely at the top of their genre.



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