Anais Mitchell & The Young Man Band at The Cluny 2, Newcastle Upon Tyne
On Sunday 10th June I visited the intimate setting of Cluny 2 in Newcastle upon Tyne. After fine support from O’Hooley and Tidow, Anais Mitchell and her three piece Young Man Band took to the stage without any introduction and immediately began strumming the opening chords to ‘Ships’, the hauntingly beautiful closing song from ‘Young Man In America’.
I firmly believe that her songs are strong enough to be performed solo with just acoustic guitar accompaniment but nevertheless I was pleased that she was supported by this small band as it helped to flesh out the sound and partially recreate the atmosphere of her current album. The band is made up of husband/bassist Noah Hahn, long time collaborator Rachel Ries on keyboards, guitar and percussion and all round clever dick Ben Davis who played drums, glockenspiel, guitar, keyboards, banjo and assorted percussion.
Having almost reached the end of a mammoth tour to promote the album (they have one remaining gig at Dingwall’s in London this Tuesday) they admitted to being sad and happy that it was coming to an end. Anais appears to enjoy visiting Newcastle and meeting the Geordie people. She even confessed to having watched one episode of ‘Geordie Shore’ and was now trying to fit the word “mortal” into conversations. I wish her luck with that one.
After seven superbly performed numbers mainly from the latest album, Anais was left alone on stage with her acoustic guitar. She invited requests from the audience and in response we were treated to a fine version of ‘Venus’. Someone called for a Bob Dylan song and she duly obliged with a lovely version of ‘A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall’ during which you could have heard a pin drop. The audience were mesmerised. I’m no expert but she appeared to remember all the words in the right order and she sang and played beautifully. Sigh! If only Dylan could do that these days.
Rejoined on stage by the band members they then played a song from her 2004 album ‘Hymns For The Exiled’, which I am not yet familiar with, but if this song is typical of the album, I will rectify that soon. ‘Tailor’ followed, a song which had been played on her last visit to Newcastle, long before it was released. The set then ended with ‘You Are Forgiven’.
Long applause and loud cheers brought them back to the stage for ‘That’s Why We Build The Wall’ taken from her previous album ‘Hadestown’. Then sadly it was all over.
Anais Mitchell is clearly a major talent and I am pleased I have now discovered her music. One guy told me that he had been following her (not literally) for eight years and was never disappointed with her albums or live shows. Personally I’m jumping on the proverbial bandwagon now. Roll on her next visit.