Sharon Van Etten – Manchester Cathedral – 24/11/14


Sharon Van Etten pulled off something this evening that more artists should take note of.  The fact that you can still blow a crowd away without performing the hits that the audience expect you to play.  There was no ‘Serpents’, no ‘Every Time the Sun Comes Up’, no ‘Warsaw’ and no ‘Your Love is Killing Me’ and still I doubt that there was a disappointed person in the venue.  This was a demonstration in how you mix up your setlist and still leave the crowd happy, but craving for more.

Support came from Marisa Anderson, a forty minute set of instrumental finger picking electric guitar with the only vocal coming before each track to explain the premise of each.  The performance, although not particularly my thing, was interesting and emotion filled but did begin to become a little stale toward the end of the set.  Never the less it was certainly something a little different and won over a fair few of the crowd.  A few of whom could be seen queuing to buy albums and get autographs at the end of the night.

There’s something extremely likeable about Van Etten and it shone from the offset.  Beginning with ‘Afraid of Nothing’, the opening track from Are We There, the amazing vocal talent of the Brooklyn dweller was immediately apparent.  As was her chemistry with fellow band mate Heather Woods Broderick. Throughout the entire evening the pair of them provided an extremely great vocal delivery with Broderick’s harmonies always being hugely complimentary.  The band as a whole do have a good chemistry however.  Looking to each other positively when another does something impressive as well as immediately getting back on track and laughing when someone might have made a mistake (usually Sharon on this evenings showing).

After the opening five tracks borrowed very heavily from Are We There the set-list went to a variety of different places.  Mid-way through the evening there was three tracks performed that I’ve never heard before and can’t be found on any of her LP’s.  There was also a solo performance of her father’s favourite song, a track titled ‘Keep’ from the Because I Was In Love album, that was dedicated to him for his birthday.  ‘Don’t Do It’ closed the set and was as good as ever, definitely a track that should remain on the set-list for some time yet.  After a brief break the band returned to play ‘I Love You But I’m Lost’ that sounded phenomenal in the church setting before ending on ‘Give Out’ which just wrapped up what had been an excellent show.

The Manchester Cathedral has been a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to shows put on there.  This performance from Sharon Van Etten was what that venue should be used to host more often.  Van Etten’s powerful, yet effortless voice and the music which compliments it made use of the acoustics in Cathedral in a way that I’ve not heard since Grizzly Bear performed there many years ago.  Sharon Van Etten is an artist that seems to have grown more with each performance that I see, which makes it all the more disappointing that we may not get to see her for much longer.

Sharon Van Etten returns to the UK next year and you can pick up tickets to one of the shows here.

Pictures courtesy of Iain Fox