Sharon Van Etten at Koko
“Please forgive me, I’m sick – I might have to blow my nose” declared Sharon Van Etten last night at Koko. The crowd felt instant empathy for her as she soldiered on.
Set to the stunning backdrop of the old Camden Palace Theatre, Van Etten and her band enchanted their audience. Opening with Afraid of Nothing from new album Are We There, she chanted “I can’t wait til we’re afraid of nothing,” and it was utter bliss.
To quote the singer, there’s still the “sad folk prairie” feel to her music, but the electric guitar gives some songs a much rockier edge. Lyrics like “Cut my tongue so I can’t talk to you” are reminiscent of Florence and the Machine, taking Van Etten away from her little house on the prairie to a darker underground.
Listening to the album through headphones is melancholic at times but live it was breathed a fresh purpose that left the audience feeling only awe. Her voice was grand enough to carry throughout the theatre and soft enough to feel intimate.
Her band were also clearly glad to be there, and backing singer Heather Woods-Broderick complemented Sharon’s weighty voice. “Maybe something will change” opens Nothing Will Change as she and Heather sing to and fro “I will reach you”, building in falsetto and concluding that nothing will change after all.
Not only is Van Etten (Shazza as she referred to herself at one point) multi-talented, alternating on organ, omnichord and electric and acoustic guitars, she is funny and charming. During a quiet moment between songs someone yelled out “I love you” and her quick response was “Dad?” All evening she engaged with the audience and reiterated how grateful she was that they’d shown up.
With the last night of the tour ending on lightheaded track Every Time the Sun Comes Up, the audience reluctantly spilled out of Koko, still swimming under Van Etten’s spell.
Photos: Erol Birsen
For further information and future events visit Sharon Van Etten’s website here.
Watch the video for Every Time the Sun Comes Up here: