I can hear the people in the crowd around me discussing their facial hair. There’s no mistake I’ve come to the right place. Tonight Chuck Ragan and the Camaraderie are playing a show here in Utrecht.
But first, a small Canadian woman enters the stage and introduces herself as Billy the Kid. Not long into her set I find myself thinking: ‘where has this kid been hiding?’ Her songs are spot on, and even though people are still coming in and grabbing drinks, she manages to captivate the crowd’s attention and people seem to really listen. She opens a song that she explains is originally a duet (with Frank Turner), and she’ll do her best to sing all the parts. But she doesn’t have to, because there is our main act, ready to help her out. This communion of musicians sharing the stage has always been one of the best things about these acoustic shows, particularly the ones hosted by Chuck Ragan.
The second act, Northcote, reels the crowd in in a different way. While his songs are delivered with equal vigor, Matt Goud really engages the audience with his jokes and banter between songs. “I normally don’t really talk at all during shows,’ he exclaims, “but for some reason, I feel at home with you guys. Like I’m playing someone’s house.”
But then Chuck Ragan and his Camaraderie take to the stage, and we feel as much at home as we feel entertained by this phenomenal performance. Aside of his usual accompaniment of double bass player Joe Ginsberg and fiddler Jon Gaunt he is backed by a drummer and steel guitar player, accomplishing the full band sound Ragan newly introduced on his latest album “Til Midnight”. They play a whole bunch of new songs off that record, next to unmissable classics such as “Nomad By Fate”. The group of musicians carry out a nice and complete set, and Ragan even does a quiet version of “Right As Rain”. But, as Chuck Ragan himself declares, his album wouldn’t have sounded the same without his band, even though his name is on the cover, and the same goes for this performance. It’s all of these amazing musicians who get it to that highest level. And although Chuck Ragan is still the man, this deserves a mention. Because what a wonderful bunch of musicians they all are, and what an utterly fantastic gig this was.
Seen live at: Tivoli de Helling, Utrecht (Netherlands) on June 9, 2014.