Concert Review

The Milk Carton Kids successfully battle Storm Isha to play Celtic Connections

On day four of Celtic Connections 2024 – in the middle of Storm Isha – folk duo The Milk Carton Kids played the Pavillion Theate with support from Jenny Owen Youngs.  This show was part of the tour they nicknamed “the Road To Grammy Loss #4”.  Since they were beaten by Joni Mitchell, you would think they weren’t too disappointed.

Jenny Owen Youngs – solo with an acoustic guitar – started her set with the title track from her latest album, Avalanche, before introducing herself and taking responsibility for the weather.  

Her between-song chat was entertaining and included comments on what she described as “adjustment whiplash” following alternating sizes of venues on the tour, and wishing those in the upper circle luck as they were so high.  

Introducing her fifth song, Jenny talked about her Buffy The Vampire Slayer podcast.  This may seem random, but this was because not only did they do a podcast episode per Buffy episode – she also wrote a song about each episode.  Her latest podcast is on The X-Files, and although she decided against writing a song for each episode – of which there are 217, plus two films – she has a few songs already inspired by the ‘90s sci-fi series.  The next song – Next Time Around – is one such song.  

Her set was a combination of entertaining talk and lovely songs and, although she only played seven songs, they stuck in your mind.  The third track, “It’s Later Than You Think” – a definite foot-tapper – is one of those songs that even though you may never have heard before seems very familiar, and hard not to sing along to.  

The Milk Carton Kids came out swinging.  Following their first song, Joey thanked the audience for coming to the show despite the weather, before giving the audience information about what can be seen from the stage.  Sometimes an artist will have to retune, and I am always intrigued by how the artists fill what can be an awkward silence.

Their musicality was up to the usual standard, and the banter between Joey and Kenneth was just as good.

Highlights included:

  • After “When You’re Gone” Joey explained that “I Only See The Moon” was their first album to have banjo played on it.  The reasoning he gave was entertaining and made much of the audience laugh.  These are the types of gigs where I wonder how much of this spoken part is prepared in advance.  Whilst it seems natural, there’s part of me that feels it is too good and it would be hard to adlib at these levels nightly.
  • The great long intro to “I Only See The Moon” – minus the orchestra.
  • One True Love” is not only a great song it is also “a murder ballad where Joey gets to kill his wife”.  This explanation was met with a crowd member saying “Murder”.  Double hilarity as is was said with a strong Glasgwegian accent, and the band didn’t understand and interpret it as “He says ‘well done’”.  Also a shout of “more banjo” was met with “we knew you Scots would love a good murder ballad” from Kenneth.

The mix of songs from their latest album with fan favourites was well received and, after wishing the band luck on their flight to Dublin the following day, the audience gave them a standing ovation.
If you only know a few of The Milk Carton Kids songs, but enjoy great guitar and banjo playing, and good between-song chatter, you should see them live.  They’re definite value for money, and it’s always good to mix great music with a good laugh.

More photos can be found here.

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