Courtney Marie Andrews Live in Bangor

Courtney Marie Andrews returns to Northern Ireland to play an intimate solo concert in Bangor's Queens Parade Church.

Courtney Marie Andrews

Queens Parade Methodist Church

I think this is the sixth time I’ve watched Courtney Marie Andrews in concert in as many years, and I’m sure at some point, I will run out of superlatives, but not just yet.

She is the owner of one of the strongest, yet sweetest and most vulnerable voices in music today.

She writes intensely personal, tales that are universally relatable, themes of kindness and forgiveness that should resonate with us all, and perhaps the audience are all that little bit more receptive to such ideas seated in the small church on the Bangor seafront.

Courtney has built up quite a catalogue of material over the years, and tonight we are treated to a heady mix of old and new.  What perhaps made the night so special, was Courtney’s ability to re-imagine fan favourites and present them in a different light. Brave too.

‘Irene’, her most popular tune, was introduced with some beautiful acoustic guitar work, and delivered in a much slower tempo, that made the impact of her lyrics and cries for acceptance of everyone, regardless of sexual orientation all the more poignant-


The heart is funny, Irene

You can’t control who it wants to love

So let it love, Irene

Man or woman or anyone it wants

You dream of the north, Irene

Well then that’s where you outta be

You are a magnet, Irene

Sometimes good people draw troublesome things

Sometimes good people draw troublesome things

Truly spellbinding. With the delivery of that one song, the admission fee was already recovered, and then some.

Courtney had played gigs on this tour with the band, but not the Irish dates. While Courtney spoke of missing the camaraderie and fun on the bus, on the stage tonight, she commanded our attention totally, and they were not missed.

Indeed the material from her exquisite ‘Old Flowers’ album positively bloomed in this arrangement, songs such they are about loss and break-up.

‘Burlap String’ and ‘Someone else’s Fault’ were written with this set-up in mind.

Rightly lauded for her writing, and that glorious voice, her guitar playing is sometimes underappreciated. Not so tonight.  It’s not showy, but boy does she know how to make a guitar sing.

‘Near You’ is a case in point. On record, it builds to a crescendo of electric guitar and feedback. In this acoustic setting, the pain of longing is there for all to see, along with amazing artistry over the fretboard.

Between songs, Courtney is lively and hugely personable, songs are put in context, with a back story or joke. She is immensely likeable and appears very comfortable on stage.

Mid-set, she slips behind the keyboard for ‘Ships in the Night’, ‘Old Flowers’ and a new song, a pounding ‘Out of our Minds’.

The ‘reimagining’s continue with a  splendid ‘May your Kindness Remain’, a little lighter on the gospel feel than before, but again with added acoustic flavouring.  ‘Rookie Dreaming’, is just a delight, before the evening finishes with an elegant rendition of the elegiac ‘Table for One’.

With a new album, ‘Loose Future’, due out in October, there is talk of a band tour next year.

If you haven’t witnessed Courtney Marie Andrews live before, you really should refresh your musical palette, and go see one of the most exciting and richly talented singer-songwriters around.