Lisa Hannigan at The Empire

8 Jun

This is in the latest issue of The Big List.

Fresh from recording by the sea, Lisa Hannigan graced the Empire to unveil what she’s been working on and display her collection of odd and amazing instruments.

The crowd craned to see Lisa as she, banjo in hand, made a quiet entrance and launched into hypnotic new song ‘A Sail.’ Her voice seemed bolder than on debut ‘Sea Sew’ which gives her new music real strength from lullaby ‘O Sleep’ with support act John Smith to a song with the sultry chorus, “…Come by with flowers and stay til they’re dead…”

Hair tied back, pink dress sleeves rolled up and one hand working the harmonium, Lisa looked like the most beautiful washerwoman I’ve ever seen. Though softly spoken, she easily joked through technial mistakes and once saw fit to issue a stern warning-“Careful now with your big camera”-to a man edging too close to the hem of her dress. The band were on top form and throughly enjoyed the instruments on offer, including a ukelele, a glokenspeil played with a bow, a mini xylophone and what I think was a zither.

Old favourites ‘Pistachio’ and ‘Ocean and a Rock’ found new vitality, while ‘I Don’t Know’ saw one fan joyfully dancing school disco style, including the classic just-jump-staight-up-and-down. By the time ‘Lille’ came around, the atmosphere was so perfect that even a sneeze by guitarist Gavin Glass couldn’t help but be in time.

Lisa’s chameleon talent is admirable as she morphs from ‘Lille’s’ indie wallflower into folk favourite for a version of Dylan’s Meet Me in the Morning, and on to rock chick in her astounding cover of ‘Personal Jesus’ which closed the show. Judging by this gig, ‘Passenger’ will be one of 2011’s best Irish albums. Damien Rice would be proud, if he wasn’t busy kicking himself…

Here’s a video of that sneeze…


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