Sunday, May 30, 2010

Live Music Experience: Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions

I recently paid a visit to Whelan's to see the singing sensation formerly of Mazzy Star, playing with her current band. I am not particularly familiar with Ms Sandoval's music. I know she was in a band called Mazzy Star. I also know that she is or was in a relationship with one of the Jesus And Mary Chain brothers, an eyebrow-raising coupling given that she is something of a looker while he is not. I also have picked up the idea that she is somewhat withdrawn.

Two things decided me to go. First of all, she played here a while back and one of my pals went along and spoke very highly of the concert. The other thing was that recent Mojo CD of Syd Barrett covers - it had her doing a very impressive cover of 'Golden Hair'. As that CD is guiding so much of my musical taste recently (see also my embracing of Cate Le Bon) I had to go to Ms Sandoval's' concert.

The venue was rather full when we arrived. The support band were already playing. They seemed pretty good, but they sounded very like the kind of music I imagine Ms Sandoval playing - slow, languid, country-influenced rock with a distinct taste of shoegaze action. But surely this would just mean that when Ms Sandoval came on to play her music the support band would just seem redundant by comparison?

When Hope Sandoval came on later, however, it turned out that actually the support band were her backing band (including none other than Colm Ó Ciosoig on drums). It is truly a bizarre world in which we live.

Sandoval's music is much as I described it above. She herself does not engage too much with the audience. It is not clear whether this is from shyness or because such things are beneath her. Sometimes remoteness by performers annoys me but in this case it seemed to fit the music.

For all the excellence of the music, the concert experience was suboptimal. Partly this was the cockfarmers near me who were having some loud and inane conversation all the way through the set. But the music itself seemed unsuited for the live setting, at least for a live setting that involved standing in a crowded venue. I think maybe the best place to hear Ms Sandoval's music (live or recorded) is while lying down on a plush sofa, perhaps after smoking some of the Orient's finest opium. It is that kind of music – relaxing and decadent.

She finished her set, and the audience munters struck again. They stood around waiting for her to come back onstage and play an encore, but did not bother their arses applauding for one. Frankly, if I had been Ms Sandoval I would have quit the venue and gone back to the hotel. Still, I was glad when she came back on to treat us to a live version of 'Golden Hair'.

An inuit panda production

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