Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ana Silvera at The Vortex, London

Whenever I have been to Hackney, amusing events have occurred. There was the time that a random man at a bus stop asked Harriet "are you stupid?" to which she replied "no, I'm a teacher" (as if the two things were mutually exclusive), and Stephen's birthday a couple of years back, when we had to pee behind a curtain in a fabric shop (it's not quite as bad as it sounds). It has led me to believe that such happenings are inevitable in this part of the world, and so when Anna suggested a musical jaunt up that way, I hoped for similarly memorable adventures.

Anna had picked the gig, and from scanning the Guardian review that she sent round, it sounded like Our Sort of Thing. After an unusually jolly overground ride across Town, we arrived at The Vortex,  and Anna opened the door to the upstairs venue. we were a little late and the gig was already in full swing. An alarming cacophony of strings accompanied by discordant screeching noises (we assumed from a human) came bursting out, and there was an exchange of raised eyebrows between the four of us as we recoiled a few steps back down the stairs in a mixture of horror and hysterics. Apparently it was to be *that* sort of evening, you know, the kind that ends with "It's not finished....it's finished".



After dashing back to the bar to reinforce ourselves with booze, we braved the gig with a resolve to enjoy the evening, even if in the spirit of racking up a good anecdote. By the time we returned, the support act had calmed down quite a bit, and was making some far more pleasing sounds. Still on the eccentric end of the spectrum, cellist and singer Laura Moody is refreshingly aware of her own wilful wackiness, and makes an endearing pastiche of the self-indulgent performance-art form. Her musicality is evident, and there were moments in between the madness of true string-gliding elegance and vocal skill. Our initial impression was replaced with appreciation: this girl was clearly a #zonechild.

The main act was Ana Silvera, whom we had unknowingly bumped into in the corridor earlier, during our comedy double take moment. A petite lady with a gigantic voice, the classically trained pianist and singer gave us one of those skin-tingling, unforgettable sets, the like of which I cannot recall since My Brightest Diamond at Green Man in 2007. Laced with familiar (and welcome) influences including Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Tim Buckley and even my beloved Boo Hewerdine (in the song Letter from New York, particularly), and yet full of its own distinct character and charm, Silvera's performance had the intimate audience enraptured, hanging off her every perfect note. When she began to sing in French, I was completely undone, tears rolling unexpectedly down my cheeks. It was one of the loveliest and most affecting gigs I have been to, and a pleasingly memorable evening in all regards.


You can hear Ana Silvera's debut album The Aviary on Soundcloud or buy it on Amazon.

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