Jan 7, 2013

Sharon Van Etten @ Famous Spiegeltent

Sydney in January! Oh, it's a glorious beast. On a picture perfect late afternoon we arrived in Hyde Park to see our first Sydney Festival event at the historic Famous Spiegeltent. Let me tell you, this show will not only be the best Festival event this season but there's a good chance there won't be a better show in 2013. Sharon Van Etten was that good. I had high hopes going in anyway, but I'm pretty sure she exceeded them. Funnily enough as we waited outside in the sunshine I could Sharon and her band sound checking and I heard the strains of "Magic Chords", perhaps my favourite Van Etten song. It turned out she didn't even play this number and that was categorically the ONLY fault of this entire show. The sleepy eyed beauty from Brooklyn entranced and delighted us for an hour and a bit with ease and complete mastery. She has two more shows in Sydney. If you can snare a ticket I implore you to go and see her. You will not regret it.

In early 2012 Ms Van Etten released her Jagjaguwar debut in "Tramp". This superb album would prove to be one of the year's best and naturally she played a fair chunk last night. Nine in fact including the storming opener "All I Can" which set the scene for a superb set. I was very happy though to hear a small selection from her first two albums. Especially the vibrant "Peace Signs", the song that truly made me realise that this singer was a unique talent. The oldest song she gave us was "I Wish I Knew' which Sharon performed solo and it was superlative. The rest of the night Sharon was ably backed by her band of three, which included accomplished musician Heather Woods Broderick on vocals and keyboards. They were great but it was near impossible to divert my eyes from the glorious Van Etten. Her voice has incredible range, flowing from quiet rage to melancholy hush to extreme power. Her voice is smoky and extremely effective, especially on show stoppers like "Give Out"  or the flat out great "Serpents". The show ended with a bang too with "I'm Wrong" disintegrating into a massive guitar jam before sliding into a hushed performance of "Joke or a Lie". A perfect end but there was more. "Ask" was a great encore choice and she closed with "One Day" which Sharon said was her mom's favourite song because it reminded her of Fleetwood Mac. There were little touches of that through out the show, with small stories about the meanings behind some songs. Sharon Van Etten displayed a sweet but slightly shy personality, but more so displayed a startling and sublime talent. This was her first visit to Australia. Let's hope there are many more. 

Set List
All I Can
Peace Signs
Save Yourself
Give Out
I Wish I Knew
Don't Do It
I'm Wrong
Joke or a Lie

One Day


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