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!