Missed her first time around at the Brude a few year back as id not listened to her back then. Since then I've seen her at Green Man and her last two albums have really settled on me. Not often someone does consecutive nights at the Brude but she did this weekend . Would have preferred the Saturday night but tickets went quickly so me and Ant had a day out in the Sunday sunshine of the big city. Thought we'd try the Black Prince ( the old Observatory) since it got into the Guardian's top ten craft ale bars of Leeds. Gawd knows how, it's just an average towny pub. We didn't even have a drink but went to Tapped and sat outside instead. Duck n Drake, Crowd of Favours and Reds followed before a cab up to Hyde park and support act Sam Amidon.
Ant is a fan but i found him to be a bit of a gnarly young bugger, a tad too sneary smart for his own good and a slightly elevated perception of his own cleverness. His acoustic/banjo led odes to psychosis and other troubles were lifted with some unusual but smart and sympathetic drumming. Ok but my cup overfloweth already with this kind of stuff.
Fashionably and confidently half hour late in stage its clear Sharon van Etten no longer suffers from small act self esteem concerns. Rightly so, her albums are choc full of open hearted vocally intricate songs that take you to unexpected places. Critically acclaimed all over she is much more than the cutesy girl next-door image she portrays.
"I fucking love you" shouts one guy. She laughs. "Get in line buddy" she replied. Maybe she is finally getting over the painful break up that inspired a lot of her last album. I have her as a cross somewhere between Chrissy Hynde and Kate Bush . That's a broad spectrum i know but she easily occupies the middle position of both.
Full house as was Saturday, and she started the gig with a " welcome to our big night part 2" Looks like the same band she's been touring with for years and they seem a solid mutually steadfast gang with the female keyboard player and vocalists providing particularly empathetic support. They don't do anything fancy, the craft is in the songs and the singing. Sharon plays acoustic and electric rhythm with simple but warm tones that accompany her strong liquid voice perfectly. Occasionally she picks uo some weird electronic gismo that looks like something Spock would play on the SS Enterprise. In between songs she chats and jokes with the audience and band with an affability totally anathemas to her songs which i like. I like sad songs but not wallowing in them all night.
Surprisingly she doesn't sing two of her " hits" which again i like. An encore of two songs brings the set to an end bang on eleven to finish off a top weekend