Last night we were down at that fantastic brutalist masterpiece, the 1967 Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank, for a concert by singer-songwriter Laura Veirs alongside two of her long-time collaborators, guitarist Tim Young and string player Alex Guy.
Supporting Laura last night was Alessi’s Ark (Alessi Laurent-Mark) – a young singer/guitarist who’s a bit of an oddity – despite being a Londoner born and bred she sings with a peculiar northern European lilt. When I first saw her perform I was convinced that she was Swedish or similar! Whether you like her style or not there’s no denying that her songs have some real charm, and on her albums she has a much less cut-down sound than we heard last night – for example, on her last album ‘Time Travel’ a cast of 14 additional musicians and vocalists were involved. She’s to my taste anyway.
Laura is doing a short UK tour at the moment to promote her new album, ‘Tumble Bee‘, which contains children’s songs picked from several centuries of both American and British culture. Her folksy style is perfectly suited to this material, and we were lucky enough to have several of these new songs showcased for us last night, including ‘The Fox, which is a song I remember from school, and which appears to have persisted almost unchanged since crossing the Atlantic Ocean back in the 1700s! We also got to har some of the staples from her repertoire including ‘Spelunking’ from the 2005 ‘Year Of Meteors‘ which I’m rather fond of, although unfortunately there were no performances of my two stand-out favourites, ‘Lost At Seaflower Cove’ from ‘Troubled By The Fire‘ and ‘July Flame‘, the title track from her last album.
I really do like Laura Veirs – she’s definitely one of my top five artists. Never over-produced, her material has a very authentic and honest sound to it and it doesn’t wear out your ears like some of the current electronic material does. The lyrics of her songs are always hinting at ocean-deep emotions too – that appeals to me and, although they’re musically poles apart, I think that’s also why I tend to gravitate towards the music of bands like Pulp and Elbow when I’m not aurally involved in some of Laura’s gentle American sounds…
Overall a great gig!