As soon as I heard Sharon Van Etten was touring I set myself a reminder to buy tickets. My partner Karl S. Williams introduced me to her captivating sound and she was due to tour around his birthday, so I purchased tickets for Christmas.
SVE played at the Zoo, one of Brisbane’s hottest live music venues, on that much anticipated night. The temperature was rising and Heather Woods Broderick had only just taken to the stage with her cool and gentle tones and smooth guitar tones. Heather is Sharon’s backing singer and keyboardist, she really is the perfect opener for the night, a little taste of the magic we are all here for.
As Sharon goes unnoticed in the crowd then stands besides us taking photos of Heather and singing along, a sense of gratitude is felt across the room.
Next on stage is NZ trio Tiny Ruins, who last year in October toured the USAwith Sharon and her band and also played CMJ music festival. Their patient tones and beautiful harmonies invite people to sit down and just enjoy the quirky story telling and well known sound. Sharon again joins the crowd, this time with Heather by her side as they take photos and sing along with big smiles on their faces.
Finally it’s time, we’ve been listening to some catchy Latino polka during the breaks and the room, although not quite as full as we had imagined, is filling with everyone sitting closely front of stage. As soon as her band walks on stage everyone stands and begins to creep forward. Whe begins and the feeling you get when you first hear a SVE record pours from your being, this moment, this night and this performance is truly something special.
She introduces two new songs to be released on 7″; one which she explains they have an inside joke about. Titled Overboard she mentions how as a 90s girl she was obsessed with the Goldie Hawk and Kurt Russell film. Jokes aside I can’t wait to hold a copy of this in my hands. It was almost as though her entire sound, everything that you could imagine Sharon to be, is compressed into its perfected state.
The entire night was as magical and captivating as I would have imagined, nothing was spared as she sang all favourites and the admiring crowd sang and swayed along. It was a shame that it was not sold out as anticipated, for an artist so uniquely talented she should be better known. But in a room with minimal temperature control as the Zoo it’s not really to the disappointment of anyone.
She leaves the stage after sparing many thank yous towards her band and supports Tiny Ruins and Heather Woods Broderick, explaining that without these integral pieces she wouldn’t be able to do what she does. It’s clear everyone is moved, everyone had their hearts opened and their spirits raised.
She leaves the stage to a roaring crowd, cheering, stamping their feet and calling out Sharon which in typical Australian language quickly becomes “Shazza”.
After five or so minutes of a cheering, whooping and whistling matinee, she casually walks back on stage, inviting Tiny Ruins to join her on the next song while she picks up her acoustic guitar one last time. By the end of her solo song it’s really hard to believe that a whole set has passed, this is the kind of performance you could enjoy for hours without wanting to move. Truly a performance one needs to experience at least once in their lifetime.
For the last song her full band and Tiny Ruins all take to the stage and playfully make the most of their last night on tour together, it’s clear they have gotten close and the best way to avoid tears is to have fun. It was the perfect ending to a beautiful night.
If you haven’t heard of Sharon Van Etten then go and check her out right now, while she caresses you with her lyrics you might feel your heart break a bit knowing you missed her this time. She will be back, so get in line.