Laura Veirs at the Tunnels

Despite sub-zero temperatures and a slowly weakening immune system it wasn’t too difficult to leave the warmth of home and head down to the Tunnels for a relaxed night of music from a couple of artists all the way from the North-West of America. It was a very civilised affair with tables and seating filling the venue. On stage a single microphone and a banjo indicated that there was to be only solo performances tonight, despite both artists having bands of their own these days.

First up was the delightfully quirky Clyde Petersen, lead singer of the collaborative music project Your Heart Breaks. She entertained the crowd with a series of songs that took us across the United States, and through a series of not altogether successful relationships. A consumate story teller her lyrics were full of little gems of pop-culture, my favourite coming from the song Torry Pines, which illustrates the level of crazy her Mother achieved through the lyrics:

“Cos you got into a fight with your Mom who did believe, she could speak to Deanna Troi telepathically, you know that psycho-crazy bitch from Star Trek:TNG who could read everyone’s thoughts, your Mom said she could do that to me”

Her songs were all accompanied by her simple-but-effective guitar playing, but later efforts brought in some percussive and vocal extras, all done through her pedals, and culminated in a whole series of audience participation in the song God Speed John Glenn.

Laura Veirs

With minimal equipment to changeover Laura Veirs soon took to the stage with her acoustic guitar, opening up her all too brief set with Pink Light, the first song off her latest album Saltbreakers. Over the next three-quarters of an hour she played through a great selection of songs from her back catalogue, though emphasising Saltbreakers, as well as playing a couple of her favourite traditional songs on the banjo.

The songs translated very well from the lush arrangements on the records to this more spartan setup, and her voice was as beautiful as you would expect. Her music is the sort that manages to bring a smile to your face, and despite the lack of other instruments there was still the same sense of whimsy and other-worldliness that her songs so easily evoke. She also warmed very quickly to the audience and was soon telling us stories including a past trip to Aberdeen where an argument with a promoter earned her a “You’ll never play in Aberdeen again!” to her recent flights across the Irish Sea in the terrible weather.

Her set was way too short though and even after the encore which included both Rialto and Riptide there was a feeling she could have gone on another hour or more, such is the charm of her music.

As it was I had a hurried walk back through -5oC temperatures to the nearest taxi!

More pictures in my Laura Veirs Photoset on Flickr.

Youtube user Trippinflags evidently attended the gig and has posted this video of Laura performing Riptide, the final song of her set.