Five years since her last visit to the city of Liverpool, quirky and unique psych folk goddess Joanna Newsom marks her return in true goddess style as she sells out the city’s famous Philharmonic Hall. Usually host to the Philharmonic Orchestra, tonight’s gig is quite a formal affair, there’s a soon-to-be-seated audience, made up of no particular demographic as an array of characters of all ages gathered patiently in the bar waiting to be called into the venue to witness.
As Joanna graces the stage, wearing a long, flowing bohemian style dress in a striking combination of red and blue, and her flowing hair tied up so it swishes as she moves, she is met with a roar of applause from the formal, seated audience. She bows, modestly and coyly, and takes her place behind the magnificent harp which hold its position center stage. She begins to pluck gently at the strings, creating a soft and beautiful melody which fills the space of the venue and is uninterrupted as every member of the audience sits and watches in complete silence, in awe of the stunning sounds. It becomes recognizable as her single ‘Bridges and Balloons’.
As she begins to sing, in her own Kate Bush-esque, folk story-telling style, her guests sit still, all eyes are fixated as if they are memorized by the words she sings so beautifully. Other elements to the music join in one by one, keys, guitar, backing vocals and drums, each layer individually is delicate and raw, particularly the harp and Newsom’s soft vocals, it’s incredible to see each layer build up to this incredibly stunning sound.
Joanna stands, “I have to do some tuning, so I’ll be taking questions from the audience to fill the gap” she says in her girly voice. “Is the drummer your brother?” someone shouts out, Joanna affirms this. Someone asks about her dress, and she tells the audience that each dress she performs in is inspired by one of her songs, and the dress she was currently wearing she told was inspired by her 2015 single ‘Divers’, as the deep blues reminded her of the ocean. It’s lovely to not only have a somewhat intimate performance from a wonderful performer, but also an intimate engagement with Newsom’s quirky personality as she answers politely shouted questions from the audience, in keeping with the formality of the evening.
Joanna continues wowing her versatile audience by showing off her raw talent, as she plucks beautiful melodies on harp, as she plays the piano perfectly and as her sweet vocals fill up the concert hall. She treats her audience to singles such as ‘Peach, Plum, Pear’, ‘Go Long’ and she finishes with her 2010 single ‘Good Intentions Paving Co.’ which was met with a roar of applause from her viewers as well as a an impressive standing ovation from the majority, demanding more from the performer. She returns and bows and takes her places back behind her magnificent harp and completes her already perfect set with ‘Cosmia’ and ‘Baby Birch’, which are also received well as not a single member of the once seated audience was seated still, showing their appreciation for the incredible performance. With such long songs and with the genre being somewhat difficult to differentiate, it’s impressive to say the least that her audience were engaged, even go as far to say as enchanted, by her bewitching performance.
This Joanna Newsom article was written by Lorna Gray, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson