Canadian-born, Nashville-based country singer Lindi Ortega swept into a heavy downpour of Manchester rain, but it didn't damper those feelgood vibes in the iconic Deaf Institute. It's a quirky intimate venue, with my only criticism being the lighting, but with the aid of my little new toy (a Manfrotto light) I managed to snatch a couple of decent ambient images, hopefully without blinding the artist too much.

Country music isn't normally a genre I would be enthusing about, but Lindi isn't your average country and western singer. Before the main act, we were held captive for thirty minutes as we listened to the beautiful strains of the sharply-dressed Tom Hickox on vocals and keyboards, and who was supported by a solo guitar player. Halfway through his set Tom informed us of his inspiration for the next song we were about to hear, which was about a forgotten war hero in ‘The Lisbon Maru’. He is heavily inspired by Richard Hawley, who in fact played on his debut album ‘War, Peace and Diplomacy’. Tom Hickox is certainly worth checking out if deep and soulful is your thing.

Lindi appeared with no airs or graces, and a big dollop of cool about her. Her trademarks were all in place - red lipstick, matching cowboy boots, cascading luscious dark curls topped with black veiled hairpiece - and now we were ready to go all countrified with a twist. Lindi managed to charm everyone with her razzle dazzle smile as it shone brightly throughout the show. Her recent album 'Tin Star' was why she was doing the rounds, and it was given centre stage, with song titles such as 'Lived and Died Alone', interspersed with Lindi's banter and self-deprecating humour on love and life "You guys want necrophilia ...this is a love song for the day. I'm creepy. I'm not gross." 'Tin Star' is a lovely mellow affair, and captures her delicate and lovely personality, which permeated through each and every song she performed. Not adverse to a few rocking numbers, she can rock out with the best of them and indeed moved her guitars to one side so she could dance around....I didn't stay for the whole show, but as I slipped away quietly I noticed the whole room was captivated. For once no one was talking, but you could bet they were taking about Lindi long after the show was over.

Photos by Melanie Smith

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