Wednesday, June 08, 2016


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So finally the stars come into alignment & I find myself in the same room as Julia Holter. The last time she visited Belgium it was the day after the Paris attacks & Brussels was on lock down. Prudence (cowardice?) meant we stayed home.

Well ... it was a relatively short (one hour plus encore) but memorable set. Julia plus bassist, drummer & violinist. I am not sure, but they didn't seem to be her regular backing musicians. 

Most of the material was from Have You In My Wilderness with a few jumps back to earlier albums. 

Listening live her voice is as powerful & seductive as on the recordings. It's the rhythmic basis of her songs that comes ever more to the fore - a compelling slackness that suddenly catches as the melody begins to soar. The last piece of the main set - Vasquez - had that free section where she's obviously drawing on her roots in the West Coast Improv scene. Gorgeous as her layerings are, I wonder whether she should go back to a more stripped down sound & find what possibilities lurk therein? That might be unlikely given her increasingly bankable status - only last week I paused mid-aisle in the local Delhaize astonished to hear one of her songs coming over the loudspeakers. 

Towards the end of the hour, Julia made one of her few addresses to the audience. It was the fourth or fifth time she was here in Belgium and - she added - "we love playing here in Brussels". Really? I'm not quite sure why - her performance is very much about the music and there's little interaction with the crowd. There was someone who kept suggesting she had a drink but that seemed to fall on deaf ears. 

Anyway, I'd give Julia one of the ninety millions thrown away on Adele in the hope of allowing her the artistic freedom to dream up yet more wonderful sounds. 

In a better world, etc. ... 


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