The last time Vetiver were in Manchester was way back in 2015. That night, the San Francisco outfit played as a full band at Night and Day Cafe in support of the more experimental, electronic album Complete Strangers. This evening in Yes, a solitary Andy Cabic stands before us. Any apprehension he may be feeling stripped of his band hopefully dissipates as he receives a warm welcome from the seated crowd, and he opens this charming show with a Bobby Charles song. Although lacking the swamp rock vibes that Charles was famous for, in its acoustic form the song perfectly establishes the ambience of the evening. It’s relaxed and melodic, possessing a gentle aura that is maintained for pretty much the rest of the evening. That’s because the focus for much of the show is on new record Up on High. It’s had critics swooning over the balmy serenity that the album exudes and it is this tone that comes to pass this evening.
Needless to say, the new songs are stripped back to the bare bones, probably appearing much like they were when they were originally recorded in California. The REM inspired inflections will have to be explored another time then, although the wonderful ‘Swaying’ and ‘Wanted, Never Asked’ manage to raise the tempo up a notch or two midway through the set. Cabic’s nimble fingers expertly add some of the jangle that is present on record during these moments, but the uncomplicated nature of the evening doesn’t affect the impact of album highlights like ‘A Door Shuts Quick’, which rolls lugubriously along a warm and tender acoustic path and is affectionately received by the enthusiastic crowd.
Cabic’s distinguished musical inspiration is further highlighted by another cover towards the end of the evening. This time it’s Suzanne Vega’s ‘Gypsy’ and his gentle vocals perfectly compliment this delicate song. If there was any trepidation about performing solo, then the generous appreciation from the respectful crowd provides the Virginian with all the encouragement he needs to return for a two-song encore. Far too often, we talk about artists ‘smashing’ a show or ‘owning’ that stage, but sometimes all you need is a respectful crowd, an acoustic guitar and a bevy of quietly evocative tunes, because it had us all transfixed tonight in Manchester.