Susan McKeown in Schenectady, NY

Last Saturday, Jenn and I headed up to Schenectady, NY to see Susan McKeown perform as part of the Eighth Step series of concerts presented at 440 Upstairs, part of the Proctors Theater complex.

I hadn’t seen Susan perform since her show last March at MassMoCA, and this time around it was going to be a different lineup, with just Lindsey Horner and Aidan Brennan (who needs a webpage) joining Susan. While I’d seen Lindsey play with Susan several times over the past few years, this was the first time I’d seen Aidan perform with her since the Johnny Cunningham memorial shows back in 2005.

Susan had been kind enough to offer Jenn and I spots on the guest list, and we were also joined by Jenn’s parents for the show. We all got to stand along the edge of the room during the sound check, which meant that we got to witness Susan’s charming daughter take her turn at the microphone, and we also all sat front and center for the performance.

I managed to grab a set list after the show (and not Aidan’s, which still had chords and such on it, this being the first show of the tour), so I can actually convey what songs Susan did….at least to the extent that I can understand what was written down, and assuming that the set list is an accurate reflection of the sets that were actually played.

Set One:

  • A Mhaire B
  • In London So Fair
  • Eggs in Her Basket
  • Langolee
  • Blue Moon
  • [Susan & Lindsey, while Aidan replaced a string]

  • Fallen Angel
  • Seven Cold Glories
  • Wheels of the World
  • Gonna Get Through
  • [from the Grammy-winning Klezmatics album]

  • South

Set Two:

  • Be Brave
  • To Fair London Town
  • Fortune
  • Nansai Og
  • Our Texas
  • Things in Your Heart
  • City of Roses
  • River

Encore:

  • She’s Leaving Home
  • [just Susan & Lindsey]

I believe four of the songs were relatively new, “Things in Your Heart” and “Our Texas,” both of which she did last year at the MassMoCA show (though the latter had some new lyrics), “Fallen Angel,” which seemed familiar, but isn’t on any of Susan’s albums, and “City of Roses,” which was brand new. They’re great songs, and I hope she gets versions of them all recorded at some point.

Overall, it was an excellent concert, with the usual fine performances from Susan, Lindsey, and Aidan, and it was well worth the trek all the way to Schenectady. Some of the songs certainly sounded different from the arrangements used when Eamon O’Leary and Dana Lyn perform with Susan, but this lineup worked well too.

After the show the usual post-concert CD signing failed to happen, as all of the local fans ran off before Susan had time to have a quick bite of dinner and come out. This proved to be quite a disappointment to Susan’s daughter, as apparently when she’d been playing in Austria a few months ago they’d gotten in the habit of signing the CDs together. Still, there was time for a bit of chatting, during which I learned, among other things, that once the current small tour is over, Susan has no plans to play out for the rest of the year, other than a few shows with the Klezmatics. Instead, she’s going to be working on recording and writing for new albums.

Leave a Reply