A few days ago Marissa Nadler performed at The Luminaire in London. She’s an American singer/songwriter of ethereal folk-ish sounding music, mostly acoustic but using occasional electronics in the form of the reverb ever present on her dreamy voice. I saw her at the same venue last year so it was interesting to compare the shows, which were quite different.
For a start, this year she was performing with other musicians. Her new album contains drumming, which has been almost entirely absent from previous material, and a lot more electric guitar than has appeared previously in her work. Last year she performed solo, with three microphone stands, each mic providing different levels of reverb, and she would sidestep between them. Personally I think the earlier material is stronger in its simplicity, and that the additional instruments have not brought anything extra to the music.
That said, she sang as enchantingly as ever this week….definitely a singer who can carry off a live performance without worrying that there’s no studio trickery to help hide or re-take the bad bits. The competent backing musicians didn’t play on every track, so we got to hear a few favourites from earlier years in their pure form (and also managed to pick up a copy of the recent vinyl reissue of the excellent “Ballads Of Living And Dying” too – bonus!).
Her appearance and demeanour were different this time too. She seemed a bit out of it at times, but if she was it certainly didn’t effect her performance, and she interacted well with the audience in this intimate venue (incidentally – The Luminaire operates a laudable policy of audience silence during performances).
a couple of photos I took on the night:
update: 24/05/2009: as posted here two of the photos from this set have been republished by the Italian website Ver Sacrum.