My final Kristin Hersh performance of the week was Thursday’s ‘Paradoxical Undressing’ performance at Cabaret Voltaire.

It was a noticeably different piece from the last time I saw it 3 years ago in Edinburgh. First of all it’s in a typical, crowded,  rock venue, with no seating. And whereas both previous Paradoxical shows had been 2 act affairs, this one was played out through just the one.

Content wise, Thursday was  also a different show from previously. Whereas the original performance seemed deliberately fractured with the threads only drawn together in the final third, the 2008 show featured similar material but had a more direct narrative. Both shows were emotionally demanding.

The 2011 version retains a direct narrative but is lighter in tone and focusses more on the music, in particular Kristin’s songwriting, with other elements of the book touched on more in passing. Nevertheless it remains a powerful piece even if the intensity is dialled down a couple of notches from previous occasions.

It’s also a slightly more informal performance from Kristin – previously she respected the formal settings by delivering the performance with little or no acknowledgement of the audience. Kristin signalled straight away that things were going to be slightly different when she responded to Billy’s introductory comments and throughout she responded to the audience with the odd expression and smile here and there.

A fascinating evening all in all spoiled only by the fact that it became something of an endurance test since the heat in the venue was  close to unbearable which no doubt exacerbated a ripper of a headache which developed towards the end of the show.

Still, unmissable.

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