Gretchen Peters at the Crystal
Wrong Hymn for Sarah Palin
24 years ago Gretchen Peters came to Nashville and since then has proved herself as songwriter deluxe. Now, the exquisite singer appeared for the first in Berlin.
Intimate, nearly private is the atmosphere in the tiny Crystal next to the C-Club on the Columbiadamm. With a clear view the audience sit on white squares, benches and on the floor directly in front of the stage. “Hello! How are you?” Up there and in the center of it all stands Gretchen Peters, attractive and blond, singing of life as “Circus Girl”. how it is under the dome in the spotlight, dangerous and exciting. But not quite as glamorous as some might think. To this she adds simple. beautiful, strong chords on her Gibson-accustic guitar, which is splendidly suited other, strong form, full of sound, melodic and percussive. The name of the guitar model corresponds perfectly with the Gretchen Peters: “Songwriter Deluxe.”
24 years ago Gretchen Peters came to Nashville and since has proved herself as songwriter deluxe. She wrote a number of fine introspective songs amongst others for George Jones, Trisha Yearwood, George Strait, Randy Travis, Patty Loveless, Martina McBride, Bonnie Raitt, Bryan Adams and the Neville Brothers.
That Peters herself is an exquisite singer with a moving voice that remind us in part of Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton, does not come to light until her publication of her first own album “The Secret of Life” from which the song “Circus Girl” is taken.
From here unfolds a magical evening, the set list moves through the years, a magnificent selection from five albums, the songs, the stories, to the present. Stories about “Germantown” a historical section of Nashville, that was primarily inhabited by German settlers in the 19th century. Other songs about men at the bar and her moving simply knitted philosophies of life (“The Secret of Life”), contemplative silence and slowness of a “Sunday Morning,” the poetic sad taking stock of a failed marriage, which reveals itself unsentimentally during breakfast (“Breakfast At Our House”).
But there is also the confession to pure, unconditional love: “The Way You Move Me” Gretchen Peters wrote for Barry Walsh, her musical and private partner for many years, whom she married last October. As an observant listener one asks oneself, how Walsh must feel, when one is serenaded in this way as the only musician on stage, playing the accompanying piano and contributing the harmony: “you left your fingerprints all over me/and now you’re everywhere I am/ if I cried a thousand tears/if I lived a thousand years/ I could never find a way to make you see/ I’ll never understand the way you move me …”
Walsh enhances the the songs tastefully, plays a calm, sometimes stirring and moving piano, from bar jazz to hints of bebop, but always unimposing, reserved, alternating with Tex-Mex accordion and occasionally with a bit of glockenspiel.
And then the is the funny story about the not so funny, but no less brilliant song “Independence Day”. Martina McBride’s version achieved numerous awards and in 1995 was nominated for the Grammy, to date Gretchen Peters most successful hit. Amusingly she she says the Sarah Palin used this song as her hymn during the American election campaign for vice president. Without comprehending that “Independence Day” is not a highly patriotic fight song, but rather it deals with a woman who is trying to free herself from the her violent husband. As expected. Laughter from the audience.
Gretchen Peters sings soulful versions of Bob Dylan’s “Billy” and Townes Van Zandt’s “Snowing on Raton.” And she is visible pleased, how she is celebrated after an hour and a half of the best songwriter artistry. It was her first appearance in Berlin, her second in Germany. She certainly intends to come back. Enthusiastic applause.
thanks to Heinz Bulmahn for translation
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