Concert Review: Esther Rose, September 17, Horseshoe Tavern


“What a lovely evening. It’s Tuesday, right?” asked Esther Rose near the beginning of her set opening for Nick Lowe & Los Straitjackets on the first night of a two night run at The Horseshoe Tavern.

She went on to ask if it was “Honky Tonk Tuesday” here in Toronto, joking that she just wanted to make sure that she was in the right place. As far as I know, Honky Tonk Tuesday is not officially a thing anywhere in Toronto, but yes, Esther Rose was definitely in the right place, as was anyone who was lucky enough to be in attendance for her show on Tuesday night.

While some small part of me would have been happy enough to skip the show, go into full old man mode and just stay home to watch Ken Burns’ Country Music doc on PBS, I made the right choice in coming out to this show. Aside from the fact that I can just watch said documentary any old time at my leisure, Esther Rose brought plenty of that old school country/honky tonk feeling live and in person just in case I felt like I might have been otherwise missing out on that vibe. All that was really missing was some Peter Coyote narration.

Accompanied onstage by a second guitarist, Rose put on a fantastic show, with the bulk of the material coming off of her latest release, You Made It This Far. Highlights of her set included “Lower 9 Valentine”, “Only Loving You”, “Me And My Bad Mood” and “Don’t Blame It On The Moon”, the latter of which suggested a bit of Joni Mitchell influence in Rose’s delivery. And while Rose was definitely playing to a crowd that was mostly there for Nick Lowe, I’m certain she must have made a few new fans on this night.

With her songs and her voice hearkening back to the earliest practitioners of the genre, the New Orleans-based singer ran through a compelling set of honest, rootsy, retro-sounding country songs during her perhaps too brief time on stage.

Not bad for a Tuesday night.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts