Kristin Hersh – Summerhall, Edinburgh – Thursday 17th November 2016
Fair to say I’d didn’t arrive at last Thursday’s show in the best frame of mind. An incredibly frustrating drive across the city plagued by a psychotic bus drivers, an abysmally selfish motorist and some genuinely clueless pedestrians and cyclists left me suffering from more than a little road rage.
So. Could Kristin soothe the nerves? Hell, yeah.
The set was predominantly based on her solo tunes although there was also a smattering of Muses songs and even a cover.
The solo tunes were split between the classics and more recent compositions with some room for the newest songs from the excellent ‘Wyatt At The Coyote Palace’. Whilst it might have been nice to hear more songs from WATCP, it was still a fairly progressive set as half of the songs were drawn from the last few years.
The new stuff sounds slightly straighter live than on the record (so more like the versions from ‘Spark Meet Gasoline’) but that is nevertheless only a relative term. Kristin still has that distinctive tendency for shifting time signatures and moods in a way that few others can pull off.
Somehow she also manages to bring quite dramatically different tones out of her one guitar. So ‘Mississippi Kite’ is ferocious whilst at the other end of the spectrum a beautiful ‘Your Ghost’ made an early (and unannounced) appearance. Solo standards were dotted throughout the set and it’s now difficult to imagine a Kristin set without the likes of ‘Your Dirty Answer’, ‘Gazebo Tree or ‘Snocat’ whilst the likes of ‘Sunray Venus’ can probably be added to that list now.
As has become her habit in recent years, the set was punctuated by readings of essays from the relevant books. She also made room for an atypical light passage from ‘Don’t Suck, Don’t Die’ to precede her devastating cover of Vic Chesnutt’s ‘Bakersfield’.
The between song stories were as entertaining as ever and, after opening with ‘Bright’ from WATCP, Kristin explained that one of her bandmates had told her not to play new songs “cos everyone HATES the new songs”. Fortunately, a) that’s not true and b) even if it was, that hatred exorcised itself in the form of some electric interference from the PA on the intro to ‘Poor Wayfaring Stranger’, much to Kristin’s amusement.
So, yeah, I left the show in a much better mood than I arrived in and the early finish meant that I also managed to avoid two consecutive late nights. Result.
Here’s my stab at what Kristin played:
1. Bright 2. Poor Wayfaring Stranger 3. Mississippi Kite 4. City of the Dead 5. Detox* 6. Your Ghost 7. Between Piety and Desire* 8. Summer Salt 9. Krait* 10. Snocat 11. Guadalupe* 12 Your Dirty Answer 13. Bakersfield* (Vic Chesnutt cover) 14. Gazebo Tree** 15. Sunray Venus 16. Static 17. Flooding
18. Cottonmouth 19. Cuckoo 20. You Cage
* Preceded by reading
** K definitely played this but it was missing from my list. Hereabouts looks about right. But the fact that it’s missing suggests that there might be another song missing.