A blog on gigs, music, art and London.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Laura Veirs and The Hall Of Fames, The Jazz Cafe, 16/08/10

I was at the Jazz Cafe in Camden last night to see American singer Laura Veirs and her current backing band The Hall Of Fames. My last visit to the Jazz Cafe was in 2000 and I had forgotten what a lovely little venue it is. Quite different in terms of its layout and intimate in size.

‘July Flame’ is currently emphatically winning the race to be my favourite album of 2010. It is such a beautiful, accomplished, mellifluous collection of indie-folk-guitar songs with impossibly pretty vocals. I love the breadth of moods conveyed – from the wistful, bittersweet melancholia of songs like ‘I Can See Your Tracks’ and ‘Little Deschutes’, to the unbridled, sunny optimism of ‘Summer Is The Champion’. I have to confess that I don’t really know much more of her music. I had been meaning to pick up a few more of her albums before this show but failed to do so. Disorganisation. (#epicfail)

 Last night she started with the ‘Sun Is King’ and in amongst some older songs played more than half of ‘July Flame’ – the main set also included ‘Life Is Good Blues’, ‘Silo Song’, ‘When You Give Your Heart’, ‘Wide-Eyed, Legless’ and ‘Carol Kaye’ and the album title track. The live versions were maybe a little less polished than those on the album, yet still retained the warmth, occasional sense of sadness and quietly affecting qualities.

Sometimes the sheer volume of some of the vocals threatened to be too overpowering but on the whole they were soft and well-delivered. Towards the end of the set guitarist Karl Blau led one of his own compositions ‘That’s How I Got To Memphis’, an up-tempo countrified song involving the audience on backing vocals.

She ended the main set at the piano, playing album closer ‘Make Something Good’, which is a nice example of one of my favourite things in music – a female lead vocal complemented by male backing vocals. Some of my other favourite tracks that fall into this category (off the top of my head) are ‘Car Wheels On A Gravel Road’ by Lucinda Williams (featuring backing vocals from Steve Earle), Emmy Lou Harris covering ‘Wrecking Ball’ and ‘Sweet Old World’ by Neil Young (featuring the man himself on backing vocals) and ‘What You Said’ by Laura Cantrell (featuring backing vocals by Joey Burns from Calexico). There are probably others that I can’t quite recall at the moment but they all sound wonderful, helped by the reversal of the familiar roles…

For the encore she played ‘I Can See Your Tracks’ and ‘Secret Someones’ to round off a very enjoyable show. Well done Laura and band.

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