Written by: Carl Taylor
Photo by Carl Taylor
Kristin Hersh – The Cluny, Newcastle, England
Wednesday 27th, June 2018
On an unusually balmy June evening in North East England, American singer/songwriter Kristin Hersh, unleashed her songs of dark Americana to a respectful audience for a second straight night at the intimate Cluny 2 music venue. This extra show had been arranged due to popular demand and Hersh has a history in the city that stretches all the way back to a Throwing Muses/Pixies gig at the old Riverside venue in 1988–a fondly remembered, seminal gig in these parts.
For Hersh’s devoted local audience, years of intricate, personal songwriting often exploring fracture, emotional rupture and half-remembered intimacy ensure that every rare live appearance in the city is an event of no little importance.
Brilliantly supported by Fred Abong–yes, that Fred Abong, former bass player with the Throwing Muses–and working intuitively without a set list, Hersh emerged onto the stage in a darkened room with just an electric guitar for company and launched passionately into a collection of songs spanning over a decade of recorded output.
From the urgency of her debut single, “Your Ghost” recorded in 1994, through to more recent songs such as “Bright” from the 2016 Wyatt at the Coyote Palace album, the sparse, stripped back arrangements perfectly captured the exquisite story intrinsic to each successive song. Singles such as the lilting and tender ”Mississippi Kite” caressed the ears and the main part of the show closed out with “You Cage” an early Throwing Muses song from their House Tornado LP.
Hungry for more, the crowd demanded an encore and Hersh obliged, playing crowd favourite, “Your Dirty Answer” with its sharp change in lyrical direction and vocal delivery at the end. The final and only song in the second encore was the brilliant, up-tempo “Gazebo Tree” from the 1998 Strange Angels album, a fitting way to end a triumphant return to Newcastle.