Review Scene: Kristin Hersh, The Flying Saucer Club, Elsternwick April 29th 2016

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See the full gallery by Mandy Hall

Just as I snuck into the main room at The Flying Saucer Club in Elsternwick, a tiny woman with an unassuming demeanor and a big blue hollow body Gibson guitar stepped out onto the stage. I had seen the Throwing Muses back in the early ‘90s and it was one of the loudest shows I’ve ever been to. Hersh’s voice was bigger than she was that night and I found myself wondering how those loud, angst ridden songs were going to translate tonight in this intimate setting with this tiny woman and the big blue Gibson guitar? It didn’t take much time into the first 2 songs before her secret weapon was revealed. You see this tour was not just a music tour but a literary tour also.

Here to promote her latest book “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die – Giving Up Vic Chestnutt”, musings about her friend and musical compadre, the late and critically acclaimed singer songwriter Vic Chestnutt, Hersh’s ability to weave in and out of an intense melodic infusion, into a reading just as intense and compelling from a variety of her own texts, was enthralling.

It was the perfect setting – an intimate performance to an audience that was hanging on her every word and note. There was little or no talking from the crowd – tonight was all Kristin. The blending of stories and songs struck a perfect balance. Early tales of Vic and his somewhat cryptic message to her in saying ‘Win always meant lose’. Funny given that his name was Victor, which of course means he’s always going to be the winner! There were plenty of archive dives into her extensive back catalogue including songs from The Throwing Muses, 50Ft Wave and her solo material. Hersh also delved into her back pages and read from her first book “Rat Girl” which she likened to publishing her teenage diary.

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See the full gallery by Mandy Hall

She recalled her friendship with actress Betty Hutton, an icon from the golden age of Hollywood. Kristin attended college with Hutton and she had no idea just how extensive and illustrious her star had shone. She told of how Betty tried to encourage her to come out of her shell and connect with her audience when Kristin’s thing was to draw further into herself when performing. She told of how Betty would play beautifully pretty and happy melodies on the pianoand sing in harmony to those. Kristin meanwhile sang melodies that were totally unrelated to the chords she played – that’s how it worked. It’s still working for her. Her guitar playing was masterful – intuitive and intricate, her vocals took us all on a journey from a whisper to a roar and back to a whisper.

Amid all the intensity, Hersh’s humour shone through and her appreciation of life and her journey through it thus far. I’m looking forward to see what the next chapter holds.

About Maryanne Window 38 Articles
Maryanne is a writer and bass player. You can find her onstage with Monique Brumby.

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