Archive for November, 2011

lisa hannigan

Probably still best known for adding her distinctive vocals to Damien Rice’s albums O and 9, Lisa Hannigan has since been carving out a singer-songwriter career of her own and stopped off at St George’s last night as part of a tour promoting her latest album Passenger.

Following an impressive warm up by band-member Gavin Glass, Lisa took to the stage with the rest of an extensive band, who would spend the rest of the evening switching between an even more extensive array of instruments.

A few songs in I began to wonder whether Hannigan could really cut it as a solo artist. Her soft and floaty voice worked brilliantly as a counterpoint to Rice’s on the albums they made together but without that interplay it did feel for a while that something was missing. However, what also became apparent is that with her husky, airy voice at the lower end of her range, shiny youthfulness at the top end and a constant playful oscillation between the two through, it didn’t really matter what she was singing about, or even if there were lyrics at all, it was all beautiful sounds.

Musical highlights for me were unfortunately probably the highlights from the first album Sea Sew rather than the new stuff – Venn Diagram and Pistachio for example.

As Glass pointed out during his short support set, St George’s is a great venue for the style of music they were bringing. The devil may have all the best tunes but “Jesus has all the best venues”. However, as the evening progressed and the band got into the swing I found myself wishing that I wasn’t hearing this in the middle-class, Radio 2 surroundings of St George’s but instead a crowded country pub on the rainy Irish coast with a whiskey. This is music to sit by the fire with.

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More a collection of interviews than a documentary, Examined Life brings together leading philosophers talking on subjects you’d expect such as truth, ethics and meaning and subjects you might not such as revolutions, our relationship with rubbish and the following segment about disability and gender that challenges our conception of the “normal” body…

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A film for the ironic generation with all the contrived whimsy and cuteness that you’d expect from Miranda July. Still, if you manage to avoid finding her character intensely annoying (and many people won’t), this is a film with a sadness that somehow sneaks up on you such that you leave the cinema feeling slightly bereft. This review does a better job than I can…

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Despite comparisons with Laura Marling (who sold out Bristol Cathedral earlier this month) and her music being featured as the theme tunes for two BBC dramas (The Shadow Line and Wallander) it seems like the word about Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo playing The Fleece last week didn’t get out to the right people.

Despite the venue offering free tickets through the mailing list and Twitter, the size of the audience would probably be classed as “slightly disappointing”. It’s a shame because those of us that were there were treated to a set full of whimsical lyrics sung in beautiful harmonies by Emily and the three other women that make up The Red Clay Halo. On the plus side the small crowd in attendance were certainly appreciative (with none of the murmur of chatter from the back that usually plagues quieter Fleece gigs) and the enthusiasm of the applause after each song felt almost apologetic that Bristol hadn’t been able to turn out a few more punters.

Musical highlights for me were Pause and Bones and generally I preferred the slightly heavier songs for which Emily switched to electric guitar (a rather pretty semi-hollow Tele). Bristolian Jo Silverston’s cello playing also made me wish I hadn’t given up on that so easily at school!

I appreciate the diversity of acts that The Fleece tend to put on but I don’t think it was the right place for this band. I suspect somewhere more likely to appeal to the Radio 2 crowd, like St George’s or the Folk House, would be a better choice of venue for a return visit. I would have preferred to have been sitting down with a coffee for this one rather than standing up drinking Red Stripe!

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