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Sunday, 19 September 2010

Gigs - Joanna Newsom - Palace Theatre

Star rating – 5/10

The last time I went to a gig at the Palace Theatre was to see Spandau Ballet in around 1981. So I was intrigued at the prospect of seeing a concert in this lovely venue again. I need to own up to the fact right away that I knew next to nothing about the Californian harpist Joanna Newsom before I went along. I was a late substitute for my friend Colin, who was away doing a wonderful job at raising money for the Red Cross in the Great North Run (well done Colin!). So I didn’t know quite what to expect but I was warned that she might not be quite to my taste.

Newsom is undoubtedly a very talented musician, excelling as she does at both the harp and the piano. At 27 years old she is an accomplished performer and a stylish young woman, constantly battling with her long blond hair and black designer tassled dress. She is also obviously very quirky, eccentric even, with her distinctive shrill voice and little girl wave to her adoring fans. The audience was a lot more mixed than I had imagined – both in terms of ages and types of fans – she is obviously a hot ticket.

She interacted very freely with her audience, a little too freely for my tastes, as it seemed to encourage disruptive, possibly alcohol fuelled, shouts which she tried to respond to when she could make out what they were shouting about. And some of the songs were beautiful, with very melodic tunes. But I’m afraid to say that I couldn’t really get on with her voice – which to me was an odd mix of Björk, Joni Mitchell and Kate Bush. The screeching, and strange faces which she pulls to achieve it, were just a little too eccentric for me. So sorry to be so unappreciative, but Joanna just isn't for me.

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