- 23 May 19
Big Thief delivered a five-star performance at their Vicar Street show in Dublin on Tuesday night.
A hush settled early over the largest ever Irish show for Big Thief and lingered all the way to the end. In that way, the performance felt like an extension of the Brooklyn band’s recent U.F.O.F. album – recorded, Bon Iver-style in a converted rustic barn, in deepest Washington State, and steeped in pastoral mysteries and interludes of quiet, star-gazing contemplation
Both record and gig had a lulling quality. But that was counterpointed by the gently crackling energy emanating, in particular, from frontwoman Adrianne Lenker. Softly-spoken yet giving off an electric hum of purposefulness, she was the evening’s riveting centre point.
Lenker’s voice is a subtle knife – it cuts you raw but so gently you don’t quite notice as it happens. She deployed it devastatingly on ‘Real Love’ and ‘Those Girls’ and led the group through a slow motion indie disco flutter on new track, ‘Forbidden Eyes’.
Her low-burn charisma sometimes slightly overshadowed the music, though she was clearly happy to share the burden of the spotlight with her bandmates. The big moment for guitarist Buck Meek came when he bashed out his rural hymnal
‘Pareidolia’, a song that felt as ancient as the hills (it is named for our instinct to see a human face in clouds, trees, oddly-shaped pieces of toast etc). It was a showcase for his brisk delivery and impish stage presence and contrasted agreeably with Lenker’s low-key brooding.
And it was an opportunity for the audience to take a breath. Thereafter Lenker stepped up to the mic again for ‘Mary’ and ‘Orange’, and down we plunged into a place that was magical and claustrophobic, ominous and exhilarating.