Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Joanna Newsom, Manchester Bridgewater Hall, January 15th 2007.

As you can see from the list of bands I have seen since Echo and the Bunnymen at Liverpool Empire on April 26th 1981, I have visited many a venue and city in the pursuit of entertainment. Another such visit happened on Monday evening. Manchester, so-called rival to our own fair city, was the location for Joanna Newsom at the Bridgewater Hall. I have been to the Bridgewater Hall twice before, to see Durutti Column and Crosby and Nash, but Monday's visit was SO good I had to write something about it here. Now, I read Mojo and Uncut magazines monthly and a startling review brought my attention to Ms. Newsom's latest recording Ys (Drag City records). I facilitated a listen and then bought not one but three copies of the album as Christmas presents. What else pricked up my ears was the news that Steve Albini engineered the album and Van Dyke Parks had arranged the strings and co-produced the recording with Ms Newsom. I consider the album the best album of 2006.
But, I digress. The concert on Monday ranks as one of my top five of all time, (along with Pink Floyd 1994 and The Smiths, New Order and the Fall (same bill)1986). As soon as Newsom arrived on stage I was transfixed. 'Emily' from the new recording is over 10 mins long and as Newsom raised her hands to prepare for playing her harp and the conductor of the Northern Sinfonia raised his baton, the capacity crowd were equally transfixed. My companion, who disliked the Ys recording because of Ms Newsom's voice, regarded her as a 'genius' and has since changed his mind (as I suspected) of the album.
Sometimes words are inadequate. On this subject they are. Joanna Newsom is indeed, a genius.