The music business can be a cruel thing. You’re up, you’re down, you’re going round and round. One minute you’re winning Grammys and other awards, the next you’re being dropped by your record label as country music is infiltrated by a new wave of pop-fused young acts. Still, it’s a reality Suzy Bogguss doesn’t seem to have been too badly damaged by. As she comes on stage in the company of guitarist Verlon Thompson and bassist Charlie Chadwick it’s clear she’s come through it all with both enough of her fan base and her humour intact, even if she’s no longer scoring top charting singles over in the US.
As she yodels through Cowboy Sweetheart and Night Rider’s Lament, it’s also abundantly clear that her voice has lost nothing with the passing of time. Even at the end of the night, her confidence is such that she completely unplugs for a version of the traditional Red River Valley from the front of the stage, with her voice carrying high up into the theatre.
Opening with the version of Nanci Griffith and Tom Russell’s Outbound Plane which served as one of her biggest 90s successes, she inevitably plays through the other hits from that part of her career, with Aces, Someday Soon and Letting Go also getting an airing. Still, much of the focus is on her latest record of Merle Haggard songs. She moves from a latin infused working of Cross My Broken Heart to the title track Lucky, through Silver Wings, I Started Loving You Again until the album is just about played in its entirety.
The highlight for me is, however, one of Bogguss’ own favourites – Shenandoah. It’s a hard pick though from a set which is actually a great deal more varied than I had anticipated, and includes a brief interlude of Froggy Went A-Courting which worked with the playful side she showed in between songs but could easily have gone awry. That was really what endeared me to her as a performer. Besides her crystal clear vocals, she is warm, effortless and completely at ease on the stage. It also sees her granted a standing ovation.