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Kristin Hersh - Live

The Edge@Cabaret Voltaire
4 stars
Paradoxical undressing is a condition whereby those in the throes of hypothermia tear off their clothes after their body kids them on that they’re boiling up. As the title of former Throwing Muse Kristin Hersh’s foray into spoken-word multi-media, for someone who’s painfully shy but whose voice practically lunges at you with raw emotion, it’s laced with metaphor.

Standing in front of a screen on which smudged pastel paintings, photographs of flowers and other idylls are projected, Hersh picks out some far-off blues patterns as she relays excerpts from a forthcoming memoir. This charts her insular rise from withdrawn girl who sculpts songs out of the noises she hears in her head, to unlikely crossover rock star who’s diagnosed bipolar on the eve of success.

Over two acts, Hersh incants low and intense, about hanging with the junkies, about the invisible snakes that wrap themselves around her, and about a series of transatlantic phone calls with 4AD Records boss Ivo Watts-Russell. Intense and often surprisingly funny, each recollection is punctuated by a stripped-down song from the Hersh back catalogue, wonderfully delivered by her standing in silhouette. This preview show moves for a week into the far airier confines of St Cecilia’s Hall. As with Hersh’s own story, quite a trip is promised.

The Herald, August 2007



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