Friday, April 06, 2007

Laura Veirs, The 100 Club, London, 4.4.2007

Laura Veirs seems to be a gentle woman, so it's always a surprise how angry she sounds when she's singing. There's just something about her voice, particularly at gigs: her tone is as if the band before her, for some reason, have played a series of inept covers of her own songs, and now, understandably irritable, she has to show everyone much better she can do them herself. Still, as TV seducers always say, 'You're beautiful when you're angry', and Veirs does sing beautifully – also, the density of butterflies and mermaids and flowers in her lyrics might get a bit cloying if there weren't a few smudges of black cloud overhead. (Sometimes she coos through a reverb pedal, which is nice, but when it's still on her voice when she says, like, 'It's really good to be in London,' it spoils the magic somehow – I mean, it's not as if I really believed she was singing from inside some kind of mystical cave during the chorus, but it just feels wrong.)

Tonight was the first gig since the release of Saltbreakers, Veirs' sixth album, and consequently also the first gig when we were officially watching 'Laura Veirs and the Saltbreakers', not just 'Laura Veirs (plus some guys with beards)'. Onomastic fusion with your backing band must be a big commitment, a bit like moving in with a boyfriend, but the Saltbreakers - on drums, bass, and keyboards, with matching embroidered suits - look like dependable fellows. (Not that they were visible very often between the 100 Club's absurd pillars.) They did a nice job of singing their own names on the album's title track, although that might just have been their awkward way of saying hello.

Saltbreakers is a good album. They brought up 'art rock' in the Guardian review today, which is going a bit far, but what they meant is that it's a continuation of the twinkling folk-pop of 2005's Year of Meteors rather than the rather barer folk/alt-country of Veirs' previous records. (Listen for very, very faint shouts of 'Judas!') On stage, this is a lot more entertaining than unaccompanied plucking probably would have been (although some older 'hits' wouldn't have gone amiss, especially instead of the strangely subdued songs that Veirs chose for the encore). Phantom Mountain, the closest thing to straight rock Veirs has ever done, was awesome, and two things happened that are not supposed to happen at what is assumed to be a folk gig: 1. a few people danced and 2. Veirs dangled her guitar in front of the amp as if she was in Mogwai or something!

1 comment:

Valeria said...

Good post.