It’s been more than eight months since I posted a gig review here. For that I can mostly blame moving from Amsterdam to Geneva (fewer gigs on tap) and becoming a father (fewer opportunities to go out). So I was really pleased to be able to go to see Lisa Hannigan in Lausanne this week, in a tiny venue that was packed to the gills with a very appreciative audience. While my favourite artists don’t tend to play in this region all that often, the good thing is that, when they do, they play in small venues.
Lisa Hannigan managed to squeeze herself plus five band members onto the small stage, which also accommodated a drum kit, keyboards, a glockenspeil and something that I think is called a harmonium, plus the usual guitars, banjo, ukelele, bass, etc. So the venue was packed, the stage was packed, and it was hot and sweaty. But what a great gig! She played most of the tracks from her newest album Passenger, of which Safe Travels and What’ll I Do were my favourites. The Ray Lamontagne part on the duet O Sleep was taken by her guitarist John Smith, whose voice isn’t a million miles from that of the man he was filling in for. My friend Chantal reminded me that I had seen John Smith playing before. (I see now that I described him as a Ray Lamontagne soundalike at the time.)
From the first album, Sea Sew, she played five songs, the best of which were Ocean And A Rock and I Don’t Know, plus a really beautiful rendition of Lille (which she first attempted to sing in French, but forgot the lyrics). The encore included a tribute to the recently deceased Levon Helm of The Band: a very cool, almost unplugged version of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, with Lisa, John, and the keyboard player each taking a verse in turn, and some nice singing along from the audience.
My friend Marc bought Sea Sew on vinyl (CDs all sold out) and got her to sign it.