Anais Mitchell (Gateshead, UK – Feb. 21, 2014 and Sheffield, UK – Feb. 23, 2014)
This is the 10th and 11th times I have seen Anais since discovering her in 2007. The first of two shows was in Gateshead on Friday 21 February and the second in Sheffield on Sunday 23 February.
Anais was excellent on both nights performing solo with just a guitar, though I did prefer the Sheffield performance. The sound was a little better, the performance a little better, and the running order of the songs a little better.
In the lovely Little Theatre in Gateshead, Anais seemed a little tired – maybe after celebrating her BBC Radio 2 Folk Award win, great video on BBC’s website – although still talkative and performing each song with aplomb.
There were songs played on both nights – ‘The Wall’, ‘The Wedding Song’, ‘Old Fashioned Hat’, ‘Cosmic American’, ‘Wilderland/Young Man in America’, ‘Shepherd’ – but Anais had a requests from the audience section that revealed very different song requests. In Gateshead, it seemed to be all ‘Hymns for the Exiled’ songs, which seemed to surprise Anais, and she played ‘1984’, ‘I Wear Your Dress’ and a fantastic ‘Two Kids’. In Sheffield it was all ‘The Brightness’ songs, and she played ‘Santa Fe Dream’ and ‘Shenandoah’. Over the 2 nights she also played ‘Tailor’, which contains my favourite lyrics “Now that he’s gone away, There isn’t anyone to say if I’m a diamond, Or a dime a dozen”, ‘Changer’, ‘Namesake’, and an awesome version of ‘Dyin Day’ with Sheffield opening act Hip Hatchet (more later).
I especially loved the opening 3 songs in Sheffield’s Memorial Hall of ‘Cosmic American’, ‘Old Fashioned Hat’ and new song ‘Now You Know’ – a great mini-interview and video of this is on YouTube – telling a story from meeting a man, marrying him and having a child with him. In Sheffield, Anais also played a Hadestown b-side, ‘Any Way the Wind Blows’, that I really liked. Hopefully, this means more Hadestown songs are out there.
All in all 2 excellent shows and performances. Roll on the 12th and more times.
In Gateshead, the show was opened by Sarah Hayes who I had not previously heard of, but I listened to a couple of songs on her website that sounded promising. On-stage with just a piano, Sarah, from Northumberland, played songs from her Mainspring EP that are both traditional and contemporary sounding. Sarah played a couple of unaccompanied tunes that were excellent. I bought her EP and it is very good and I look forward to an album in the future.
In Sheffield, the show was opened by Hip Hatchet who I saw in January as my first gig of 2014. Philippe was excellent again and played with great energy and intensity. I cheekily tweeted a song request and he played the excellent ‘Coward’s Luck’, giving me a shout out (first time ever) before he played it. I only wish he had more time on stage to play more tunes.
I managed to have a quick chat in the break about the intervening month between shows that included braving the storms in the South West, a lot of shows and returning to America in a couple of days. It was good to catch up and I am excited about his new album that is “a lot more country” and hope to get a chance to see him next time he’s in the UK.