Skip to main content

Sharon Van Etten

Leith Theatre
Four stars

When Sharon Van Etten plays a solo version of Sunshine on Leith mid-way through a set that mixes up the martial electronica of her recent Remind Me Tomorrow album with bar-room indie-rock confessionals, The Proclaimers’ anthemic lament prompts a mixture of noisy surprise, sing-a-long rapture and at least one grown man shedding a tear.

Van Etten says that when she first heard the song growing up in New Jersey, it changed her life. Given the raw truth of pretty much everything she’s ever sung, there’s no reason to disbelieve this most honest of artists. She’d entered in darkness, her voice at odds with the brooding fizz of the opening Jupiter 4 and the industrial sturm und drang of Comeback Kid and No One’s Easy to Love. Only when she strapped on a red guitar for One Day from her 2010 Epic album could you hear her city cow-girl roots.

Epic is a title which seemed to predict where Van Etten is at now. A slight but powerful presence, Van Etten has come through the mill enough to buy birthday cake for her tour manager in Mimi’s Bakehouse and perform with an all-embracing sense of self-possessed joy. This is driven by Devin Hoff’s meaty bass, the thwack of Jorge Balbi’s drums and twin synths of Charley Damski and Heather Woods Broderick. Van Etten is bathed in blue light for the slow drawl of Tarifa, shares lovely harmonies with Broderick on All I Can and claws the air inbetween rippling her other hand through mini tubular bells during Memorial Day.

“As angry as we sound, we are so happy,” says Van Etten after Broderick’s FX wigout on Malibu segues into the thunder of Hands prior to that Proclaimers moment. The Springsteenesque wisdom and experience of Seventeen, the tortured self-awareness of Every Time the Sun Comes Up and the simple plea of Stay all seem to belie Van Etten’s words. If they sound like purging, the beautiful intimacy of I Told You Everything ends the night with pure heart and soul redemption.

The Herald, August 22nd 2019



Popular posts from this blog

Big Gold Dreams – A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

Disc 1 1. THE REZILLOS (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures (12/77)  2. THE EXILE Hooked On You (8/77) 3. DRIVE Jerkin’ (8/77) 4. VALVES Robot Love (9/77) 5. P.V.C. 2 Put You In The Picture (10/77) 6. JOHNNY & THE SELF ABUSERS Dead Vandals (11/77) 7. BEE BEE CEE You Gotta Know Girl (11/77) 8. SUBS Gimme Your Heart (2/78) 9. SKIDS Reasons (No Bad NB 1, 4/78) 10. FINGERPRINTZ Dancing With Myself (1/79)  11. THE ZIPS Take Me Down (4/79) 12. ANOTHER PRETTY FACE All The Boys Love Carrie (5/79)  13. VISITORS Electric Heat (5/79) 14. JOLT See Saw (6/79) 15. SIMPLE MINDS Chelsea Girl (6/79) 16. SHAKE Culture Shock (7/79) 17. HEADBOYS The Shape Of Things To Come (7/79) 18. FIRE EXIT Time Wall (8/79) 19. FREEZE Paranoia (9/79) 20. FAKES Sylvia Clarke (9/79) 21. TPI She’s Too Clever For Me (10/79) 22. FUN 4 Singing In The Showers (11/79) 23. FLOWERS Confessions (12/79) 24. TV21 Playing With Fire (4/80) 25. ALEX FERGUSSON Stay With Me Tonight (1980) 1. THE REZILL

Losing Touch With My Mind - Psychedelia in Britain 1986-1990

DISC 1 1. THE STONE ROSES   -  Don’t Stop 2. SPACEMEN 3   -  Losing Touch With My Mind (Demo) 3. THE MODERN ART   -  Mind Train 4. 14 ICED BEARS   -  Mother Sleep 5. RED CHAIR FADEAWAY  -  Myra 6. BIFF BANG POW!   -  Five Minutes In The Life Of Greenwood Goulding 7. THE STAIRS  -  I Remember A Day 8. THE PRISONERS  -  In From The Cold 9. THE TELESCOPES   -  Everso 10. THE SEERS   -  Psych Out 11. MAGIC MUSHROOM BAND  -  You Can Be My L-S-D 12. THE HONEY SMUGGLERS  - Smokey Ice-Cream 13. THE MOONFLOWERS  -  We Dig Your Earth 14. THE SUGAR BATTLE   -  Colliding Minds 15. GOL GAPPAS   -  Albert Parker 16. PAUL ROLAND  -  In The Opium Den 17. THE THANES  -  Days Go Slowly By 18. THEE HYPNOTICS   -  Justice In Freedom (12" Version) 1. THE STONE ROSES    Don’t Stop ( Silvertone   ORE   1989) The trip didn’t quite start here for what sounds like Waterfall played backwards on The Stone Roses’ era-defining eponymous debut album, but it sounds

Carla Lane – The Liver Birds, Mersey Beat and Counter Cultural Performance Poetry

Last week's sad passing of TV sit-com writer Carla Lane aged 87 marks another nail in the coffin of what many regard as a golden era of TV comedy. It was an era rooted in overly-bright living room sets where everyday plays for today were acted out in front of a live audience in a way that happens differently today. If Lane had been starting out now, chances are that the middlebrow melancholy of Butterflies, in which over four series between 1978 and 1983, Wendy Craig's suburban housewife Ria flirted with the idea of committing adultery with successful businessman Leonard, would have been filmed without a laughter track and billed as a dramady. Lane's finest half-hour highlighted a confused, quietly desperate and utterly British response to the new freedoms afforded women over the previous decade as they trickled down the class system in the most genteel of ways. This may have been drawn from Lane's own not-quite free-spirited quest for adventure as she moved through h