– YES, Manchester –

Reader, a confession: I am very hungover. I have been in London for the weekend visiting friends and taking a trip to the Oval Space to see Tirzah and Koreless as part of the Pitchfork London festival (really very good, would go again). I’m trying to be enthusiastic about mustering the strength to leave my sofa and get to Yes to see Cassandra Jenkins, maker of one of the very best albums of the year in ‘An Overview on Phenomenal Nature’, but I can’t lie, it’s proving to be a difficult task. I eventually rouse myself to meet my mate for a pre-gig red wine, which will also serve as a straightener, and lo, it works. The combo of fresh air, a bit of red, and the company of my friend has put me back on track, I’m back back back and ready to be soothed further by Jenkins.

Cassandra Jenkins

Cassandra Jenkins

Soothed is probably the perfect word for what Jenkins does here tonight. The whole show is just the best Sunday vibe you can imagine, perfectly chilled, exquisitely executed. She is accompanied by a full band, including a saxophonist who might be the MVP of the evening, she’s really that good, and absolutely central to the vibe being created. The entirety of ‘…Phenomenal
Nature’ is given a run out, and it’s maybe because of this that the show hangs together so perfectly. ‘Ambiguous Norway’ is impossibly beautiful, a tribute to her friend David Berman of Sliver Jews and Purple Mountains (Jenkins was a member of the band) who died in 2019, the lyrics hitting hard (“can’t grasp what happened…no matter where I go, you’re gone, you’re everywhere”), and is anointed by a closing sax solo that elevates it to another level entirely. Jenkins’ vocals are almost whispered throughout, like another texture rather than the focus of the songs, something that actually detracts from song-of-the-year contender ‘Hard Drive’ with its spoken verses that are rendered hard to make out clearly, so in the background as they are. Yet that’s a minor quibble in what is a wonderful performance – the song is still beautiful, and every other track is a gorgeous delight.

‘New Bikini’ could be prescribed on the NHS to act as a musical comforter, it’s just so beautiful, and when she sings “the water, it cures everything”, I’m mainly thinking that actually it’s Jenkins who could cure anything. She treats us to a new song which points to a slightly fuller sound than Phenomenal Nature, and her solo encore of ‘Hotel Lullaby’ from debut album ‘Play Til You Win’ is a delicate cherry on the top of a ravishing Sunday treat. I’ve been known to call for a ban on Sunday, Monday, and perhaps even Tuesday gigs, as I’ve been to so many where the energy hasn’t really been there, mainly crowd wise rather than artist wise. Yet despite the grade A hangover, I would happily go to a Sunday gig with this perfect end of the weekend vibe every single week. It’s like a hug, or being wrapped in a blanket. I feel safe, happy and fulfilled – Cassandra Jenkins has saved me from the grip of Sunday fear and saved Sunday night gigs – is there nothing she can’t do?

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