Sharon Van Etten
Manchester Cathedral, Manchester, 24/11/2014
published: 8 /
At Manchester Cathedral a flu-bitten Dixie Ernill watches Sharon Van Etten play an outstanding show to promote her much acclaimed new album, 'Are We There'
I feel awful. A combination of over work and severe man-flu have seen me bed-ridden for the entire weekend prior to this Monday night gig. Thankfully I have just about enough energy/Lucozade inside me to back up my enthusiasm and manage to make it.
I’m a fairly recent convert to Sharon Van Etten and I am only familiar with her last two albums ('Tramp' and newie 'Are We There?'), but such is the power of her voice, kind of like Stevie Nicks diluted by a splash of Kate Bush, and the excellence of her backing band it doesn’t overly matter.
Born in New Jersey some thirty odd years ago, Sharon remains as cute as a button and even her speaking voice (during the between song banter, where she comes across as both humble and witty in equal measures) is intoxicating. Indeed it’s no wonder that an admirer has sent her a huge basket of flowers….
The set is unsurprisingly heavy on tracks from 'Are We There?', such as opening number 'Afraid of Nothing', 'Taking Chances' and the dance influenced 'Our Love', all of which are greatly received by a pretty packed audience.
The older tracks seem to hit home too, with 'Save Yourself' being an obvious highlight.
The fragile nature of some of her lyrics are a pleasing contrast to the religious grandeur of the surroundings, and strangely it seems the most natural place on the planet for Sharon to be performing her songs.
With the Lucozade effect fading fast, Sharon and her band return for a single encore of 'Give Out', the song that first drew me in, a song that has been a constant on my player for the best part of two years, a song with lyrics that seemed to capture my plight when I first heard them - “There were your eyes in the dark of the room/ The only ones shining, the only ones I'd met in years”. Hearing them sung live makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck and brings a dryness to my throat as I am transported to another time and place. For a few minutes my sickness is gone….