11th January 2007
Kristin Hersh @ Soho Arts Theatre, Great Newport Street
In a tiny theatre tucked behind the busy neon glare of Leicester Square a woman takes the stage with her band. This is no ordinary woman and no ordinary band. Joined by experimental string duo The McCarricks (also opening tonight with a techno orchestral blast), erstwhile bassist Bernard Georges (Throwing Muses/50 Foot Wave) and drummer Rob Ahlers (50 Foot Wave), Kristin Hersh is here to preview songs from her new album, "Learn To Sing Like A Star", all previously unheard by the public save for her current single "In Shock" (available now on iTunes).
The 11 song main set showcased the album beautifully, from the suspenseful bluster of "In Shock" to the sinuous roar of "Winter". "Under The Gun" and "Vertigo" stood out for me particularly, the lyrics all magic and weirdness and strength. The emphasis was very much on the music, with no flashing stage lights, crazy outfits or rock posturing necessary, just a group of grown ups come together to play songs that they love. The simple stage setup suggested an informal rehearsal but the sound was anything but. Kimberlee and Martin McCarrick (violin and cello respectively) provided richly swooping string parts and Ahler and Georges' supremely laid back air (Georges perched on the edge of a stool for the majority of the set) belied a effortlessly rock solid backdrop to Kristin's blend of ice and warmth.
Watching a gig of completely new material is always a strange experience. Watching one seated politely in a theatre was even stranger but somehow the band carried it off and our reward for our thunderous applause between songs was two encores of old tunes, preceded by Kristin's cheeky introduction: "Those are all the new songs we know, here are some old ones we don't know".
I always assume that Kristin Hersh is more underrated than she actually is because of mildly irritating conversations with people who are into the same sort of music as me but haven't heard of her, but I was surprised and pleased to hear that she recently did sessions for XFM and 6 Music and that this show has been reviewed in a number of newspapers. Still, how can someone whose output is such that she has released 15 albums in 20 years still be so underground? Seriously, where's the red carpet?
The Set List
(thanks to Andrew from the throwingmusic.com messageboard)
Under The Gun
The Thin Man
Your Dirty Answer
Me And My Charms
Kristin is doing an instore performance at the Tottenham Court Road branch of FOPP TODAY. Free wristbands will be available from 9am and the performance is at 7pm. Pre-release copies of her new album, "Learn To Sing Like A Star" will be available and she'll be doing a signing after the show. Kristin Hersh also plays Koko on 7th March 2007, tickets here.
Images from my Flickr pool: FurryJumperGirl