GIG REVIEW: Andrew Combs – Live At The Maze, Nottingham

Seeing Andrew Combs showcasing his craft in an intimate venue like The Maze in Nottingham really is one of life’s great joys. One of Americana’s master songwriters, the Nashville-based artist has found a second home here in the UK over the last couple of years since his appearance at C2C in 2016. Being able to completely captivate an audience with a couple of guitars and a simply flawless vocal is a rare and wonderful talent, which Andrew has in abundance.

Alongside his pal, Charlie Whitten, who provided a thoroughly entertaining and humour-filled support set beforehand, Andrew powered through a setlist made up of tracks from across his three albums to date, as well as four brand new numbers which set expectations high for his forthcoming album (aiming to be released late summer). The best of the new songs was ‘Firestarter’, and ‘Like A Feather’ is also one to keep an eye out for, which Andrew wrote about his wife. You know exactly what you’re going to get from Andrew – complex songwriting, dark at times, but top quality consistently, and the new album will seemingly be more of the same.

‘Rose Colored Blues’ isn’t only one of Andrew’s stand-out songs, it’s also easily one of the stand-out country songs of the last few years. The accompaniment from Charlie Whitten on electric guitar added another dimension to the live performance of this one, and its warmth simply washes over you. It really doesn’t get any better. He kicked off the show with it, followed by ‘Rainy Day Song’ (which you might know as ‘Shine On Rainy Day’ if you’re a Brent Cobb fan) and the beautiful ‘All These Dreams’, the title track of his stunning sophomore album.

The aforementioned complexity and depth of Andrew’s writing commands a silent, listening crowd, and you have to be willing to immerse yourself in his mindset to engage at times. ‘Dirty Rain’ tackles the issue of global warming and attitudes towards the way we treat the planet, whilst ‘Blood Hunters’ shifts the attention to mental health issues. Don’t expect a party when you turn up to an Andrew Combs gig! It won’t be for everybody, but if you appreciate intricate storytelling and top drawer musicianship, you must go and check him out.

‘Suwannee County’ is always a massive highlight, as well as ‘Too Stoned To Cry’ from his ‘Worried Man’ album, which has just been re-released by his UK label Loose Records. A good move which will hopefully breathe new life into a great collection. For an encore, Andrew and Charlie returned with ‘Foolin’’ and the mesmerising ‘Hazel’. After the show, they stuck around to sign and have a chat with fans – Andrew has some lovely vinyl copies of his albums which are well worth checking out if you’re interested. Hopefully it won’t be too long before he returns to our shores – don’t miss the next tour!

Dan Wharton
@LifeInASong_Dan