Live Review: Laura Veirs – The Deaf Institute, Manchester

It’s only been eighteen months since Laura Veirs’ eleventh album My Echo was released. This record was high up on the TFFT faves list at the end of the year and it is revealing that not a single track from the record is performed at the Deaf Institute this evening. It’s almost like the Portland native has moved on. It’s unsurprising really considering the album was created during the breakdown of her marriage and in her words was “an album about disintegration”. Her twelfth album Found Light is now imminent so instead this evening is an opportunity to look forward and a nice chunk of the show is dedicated to the record.

Photo Credit: Iain Fox

As well as the expected acoustic folk approach you’d expect from Veirs on Found Light, there are moments of unexpected fuzziness like the wonderful ‘Winter Windows’ and ‘Seaside Haiku’. This evening however, Laura is sans backing band and these more complex compositions are converted to more familiar lo-fi solo versions.

Armed only with an acoustic guitar and a looper pedal, this solo approach makes her earlier albums an unsurprising focus and the rest of this evening’s charming set is composed of material from July Flame backwards. Opener ‘Pink Light’ may lack the delicious layers present on record but she hits her stride on ‘Spelunking’ and ‘Lake Swimming’ which are a joy, full of whimsical imagery and the classic folk sensibilities she is renowned for.

Photo Credit: Iain Fox

A long and amusing anecdote provides insight into life as a touring musician, as well as the rules of reality TV show ‘Hunted’, which she inexplicably became involved in upon landing in the UK. It would also probably be remiss of a Portland musician to overlook the influence of Elliot Smith and a brilliant cover of ‘Between the Bars’ is a delight before she opens the evening to requests and the melancholic narrative of ‘Black-eyed Susan’ follows. The second request ‘Carol Kaye’ follows; the song is over twenty years old and despite struggles with the lyrics of the second verse, members of the crowd ably jog her memory, adding to the collective, folky spirit of the evening.

The audience’s warm applause prompts a quick two-song encore including the gentle ‘My Lantern’ from the new record, indicating that the gentle whimsy that we have all come to know and love about Laura Veirs is still present and correct. She is a wonderful sing-songwriter and on the new record, as she stated earlier this evening, she had the pleasure of being in control of the outcome for possibly the first time. Perhaps the solo version of Laura Veirs is the real deal.