– Deaf Institute, Manchester –

Laura Veirs

Laura Veirs

Sunday nights were made for watching Laura Veirs. But this is not the same Laura Veirs who has played this stage before. On her first UK tour since navigating a divorce from her husband and long-time producer, this is a new, quietly confident and tentatively upbeat Veirs reaching to pick up threads, explore her capabilities and reframe her identity through her art.

Veirs creates instant rapport with her audience through her signature warmth and appreciation for those who have come out to see her. As extravagant stadium rock continues to dominate post-COVID – from the Stones and Alice Cooper to Diana Ross and Elton John – it’s a welcome break to watch an artist in the intimate Deaf Institute armed with nothing but a guitar and her voice. And her outfit, that is, which is almost a metaphor for her status as a hidden gem – a colourful, sequinned dress semi-concealed by an everyday denim jacket.

Launching with ‘Riptide’ from 2004’s ‘Carbon Glacier’, its themes of finding oneself against the vastness of the world around us hold up almost 20 years later and bear relevance to Veirs’ present; “My toes dangle for a place to stand and be”.

Laura Veirs is a writer, a singer, an artist. But most notably, she’s a storyteller with a startling ability to paint pictures in the air. She transports her listeners to lonely, peaceful landscapes where nothing is certain but the beauty of the world around us. If Veirs hadn’t pursued a career in music, she could have easily cut it as a poet.

With academic roots in geology, Veirs’ lyrics continue to draw from science and nature as she delves into her back catalogue and calls on tracks such as ‘Black-Eyed Susan’, ‘Pink Light’ and ‘I Can See Your Tracks’.

The much-loved ‘Year of Meteors’ and 2010’s ‘July Flame’ get ample airtime with ‘Where Gravity is Dead’, ‘Lake Swimming’, ‘Spelunking’, ‘Carol Kaye’ and ‘When You Give Your Heart’. Veirs’ confident and graceful delivery and the lack of a band bring many of the timeless themes within them even more sharply into view.

A highlight of the evening comes from a cover of Elliott Smith’s ‘Between the Bars’, to which Veirs does ample justice with the minimalist setup and her expressive vocal.

Unsurprisingly, one of the threads running through her forthcoming album Found Light is healing. Unbinding herself artistically from her long-time producer may be one of the greatest challenges of her career, but it’s an experience Veirs is making every effort to emerge from transformed. ‘Seaside Haiku’ and encore track ‘My Lantern’ are ones to watch.

She tells the crowd about navigating the world of dating, accidentally going on the run with contestants from the Channel 4 show Hunted moments after arriving in Heathrow, joining a secret poetry group as she wrote her new album and being en route to Glastonbury.
Veirs’ newfound artistic autonomy lends ‘Found Light’ a hook in its relatable candidness and vulnerability. And, as well as delighting her veteran fans, it will no doubt welcome new ones into the fold.

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