- Jeremy Ivey
“It’s Saturday night!” shouts MARGO PRICE, and the crowd roars. It is indeed Saturday, and (as has surely been said elsewhere) on Friday, the USA swore in their 45th president to roars from a much bigger, and yet much smaller crowd. It isn’t quite right to refer to an elephant in the room for, despite his wrinkled, dust bath complexion and the tiny birds riding on his back, one of Trump’s worst qualities denies him the status of pachyderm: thick-skinned, he ain’t. But Price leaves the political commentary to her support act (and husband) JEREMY IVEY. “A fascist, a pervert, and a commie walk into a bar. Barman says, ‘What’ll it be, Mr President?’” There’s a cheer, but it doesn’t quite land. Two out of three will do. We’re still in the Deep South, and Russia is still the Soviet Union down there.
But onto the music. Ivey’s every inch the American troubadour, much folksier than his partner, with a bag full of songs inspired by a life lived on the road. There’s no proof he actually has lived on the road, but Greyhound is the best description of staring out of the window on public transport this audience has ever heard, ringing true whether on the eponymous canine or travelling to London on the Megabus. His choruses could do with being chorused, so here’s hoping they end up being better-known.
With debut album Midwest Farmer’s Daughter not even out a year yet, the mainstream (US) music press might call Margo Price up-and-coming, but this is her third visit to Liverpool, courtesy of Mike Badger, and she clearly feels the esteem reserved for country music on the Mersey delta. It’s glossy pop in the Garth Brooks vein – the only thing with dust on its boots is Price’s Dollywood accent. As well as covering Jolene, there’s something a little more specialist in Merle Haggard’s Red Bandana. Haggard, of course, was 20 years old, more jailbait than jailbird, when he heard Johnny Cash at San Quentin, but tonight’s star has done her time too. “You wanna more upbeat depressing song? How about one about the weekend I spent in jail?” One wonders if that stretch had anything to do with the thorny legality of whether It Ain’t Drunk Drivin’ If You’re Ridin’ A Horse.
Ah, for the early days of Dubya, when history was over and a chimp in the White House didn’t so much derail the liberal world order as amuse us by hooting and jabbing at the letters W, M, and D on a flash card. For a time when Americans were loud and brash and insular, but only in a funny way. Fortunately, Margo Price is a sharp cookie. She remains tight-lipped on the topic of commanders-in-chief, instead dedicating Four Years Of Chances to “the ladies, especially today”, as 673 Women’s Marches take place around the world. As the lady sings “One thousand, four hundred and sixty-one days”, we’re already counting down.