– GORILLA, MANCHESTER –
There is something undeniably special about a hometown gig. Adopted hometown it may be, but it is no less special to see Californian Chorlton-dweller Jesca Hoop on her own stomping ground.
It’s certainly been a journey getting here for the American. A Mormon upbringing, a spell as nanny to Tom Waits’ kids and raft of collaborations (including Guy Garvey) formed just part of the story.
She plays tonight as a 4 piece, the additional instrumentation rounding her curious folk sound nicely, especially pronounced when bringing drums to the fore during ‘Animal Kingdom Chaotic’.
Tonight’s show leans heavily on excellent new record, Memories Are Now. A solo performance of ‘Pegasi’ is surely as beautiful as you’ll ever hear in Gorilla, while opener ‘Songs of Old’ feels almost gospel in delivery.
Elsewhere from Hoop’s impressive back catalogue, ‘Peacemaker’ is enchanting, in the true, spellbinding sense of the word and not simply the lazy adjective that female singers are often labelled with.
The show is punctuated with charm and wit between songs, Hoop disarming any urge to chatter in the 500 strong contingent here tonight. Much of the talk is about the city (dreary weather, the passion of the crowd) and, less generically it must be said, a rare opportunity outside of Alabama for an audience to participate in chats about chaff-free chaps.
For all the entertainment tonight, 90 minutes still feels a long time for a folk show. I can’t quite put my finger on why; the material is strong and varied enough, there just seems maybe a touch too much of it.
Things sharpen again at the business end of the show, and Memories Are Now’s title track takes on a triumphant air, soaring into the outro of “nothing can stop my good time”, feeling somewhat prophetic.
Ending with a beautiful, a capella rendition of ‘Storms Make Grey the Sea’, a moving reminder of the sheer brilliance of the vocals on show.
It appeared at the end that she wiped a tear away, and after that performance I really couldn’t blame her. She may not have done, but, given we’re a few hundred yards from Tony Wilson Place, I’m going to take the great man’s advice and print the legend. As Jesca Hoop will now be accustomed, it’s the Manchester way.