– Stoller Hall, Manchester –



In an interview in the excellent ‘Loud & Quiet’ magazine, Tirzah took her interviewer to an exhibition. Afterwards, when asked what she thought of it, Tirzah replies:

“Maybe I’m a bit too traditional, but I found all the extras a bit too distracting. I’d rather see something stripped back so that the message is really impactful, rather than being forced to be in a world or something…there’s something about being forced to shut out everything that’s going on around you and just allowing the space to penetrate your thoughts.”

‘I’d rather see something stripped back so that the message is really impactful’ encapsulates everything that is so engrossing, enveloping and essential about her performance in the beautiful minimal surroundings of Stoller Hall this evening. The set up is pretty stark on the large stage; Tirzah in the middle with mic, cymbal and synth nearby, flanked by frequent collaborators Mica Levi and Coby Sey, who swap between the drum/guitar set up to Tirzah’s left, and the bank of electronics and drum pads to her right. Underneath the stool of the drum set up is a light which bathes whoever is sitting there in swaths of light, varying from red and orange which give the appearance of the gates of hell swallowing them up, or icy blues and greens, a more tranquil setting. For 55 mins, the three of them create quietly aggressive ambience to accompany the pure unrefined tones of Tirzah’s vocals.

The noise that is created around the first three tracks, all taken from Tirzah’s second album ‘Colourgrade’, released late last year, is unsettling and mesmerising. Levi is hammering the drum pads, Sey is creating a storm of static-y noise, and Tirzah is low in the mix, adding texture as well as emotion to the swirl of sound. ‘Recipe’ sounds urgent and vital, Tirzah imploring that she will give her (I assume) children “every memory, every dream, every recipe, and security”, it’s an interesting juxtaposition to the Dean Blunt inflected acoustics around her. From the noise, a moment of clarity, as ‘Gladly’, a highlight from her stunning debut album Devotion enters the mix, as crisp and clear as the previous tracks have been murky. ‘Tectonic’ is slinky, sexy, something to play at the afters; ‘Send Me’ is a wonder, the finishing distorted noise from Sey’s guitar a highlight of the evening’s sonics. Tirzah has said that the name is more than her, it’s more a project between her, Sey, Levi and Blunt amongst others, and this shines through tonight – it’s clear Levi and Sey are as vital to the sound and performance as Tirzah herself is.

I’ve been so engrossed with everything going on, the seeming simplicity it all pulling me into a vortex where apparently time doesn’t exist, that when it comes to the set closer ‘Hive Mind’, I swear she’s only been on stage for about 20 mins. It’s a perfect ending, ‘tethering like hive minds do’, the mantra ‘minds do, minds do’ repeated over and over, into ‘share every piece, every piece’, the perfect summation of what the three collaborators do on stage tonight, and indeed on their exceptional records. Stripped back messages received loud and clear, Tirzah has left quite the impact on me tonight.

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