On Sunday night I realised a long-term dream: I saw Mindy Smith sing live. Mindy Smith has been a constant voice in my life since I was about 16 when my dad played me her cover of Jolene. At the time I was ‘singing’ (smoking and drinking) with a country band and she epitomised everything I wanted to be. I’ve listened to her songs in happiness and sadness, and her voice makes me feel like a young, wild thing again.
She played at Bush Hall in London; an extremely out of the way venue that is a nightmare to get to if you’re an out of towner. We did a lot of trekking about on the hottest day of the year so far, but it was completely worth it. Not only was Mindy incredible; her support was the best I’ve ever seen.
The first act was a pair of twins in sparkly dresses and cowboy boots. I looked at them and thought ‘Who are these kids?’ but as soon as they started singing I was blown away. They sang a very contemporary, very British style of country with references to Facebook and Tom Toms and Essex. Their voices were perfect together – obviously because they’ve grown up singing as a pair. I utterly adored them and a song about their mother made my eyes tear. I’m sure hers do every time too.
Next up was one of the most exquisite artists I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. Matthew Perryman-Jones, with backing from Alva Leigh. Matthew has the most perfect male voice I ever heard. He sang a Tom Waits song and his pure voice gave it a sweetness and a sadness. Alva hung back for the first few songs, lending a lovely harmony but keeping her distance. Then she got her turn and I cried. Her voice was so clear that it pierced my heart. I had nail marks on my palms afterwards from how beautiful it was.
And then Mindy. Oh Mindy. She went straight in with Jolene, which my daddy was convinced we’d miss. Then Out Loud, then Raggedy Ann. Bam bam bam, right in the heart. Watching her sing songs that are as familiar to me as my own voice was surreal, a religious experience. I think I cried throughout the whole thing, but the last song we saw before we had to hot foot it back to the country really did it for me.
When your idol plays a song you’ve been sobbing about lost lovers to…and explains that it’s about her mother who died of cancer, then you really sob. And feel it properly for the first time. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed.