[sic] Magazine

Sharon Van Etten @ Manchester Cathedral, November 24th 2014

In a space like Manchester’s majestic cathedral it’d be easy to let the building do the work for you. Sharon Van Etten wouldn’t be the first to let complacency rule in the face of grandeur, but mercifully tonight her balance of hyper-intimate song craft (she dismisses her band entirely at one point) and swelling guitar has no intention of hiding in the shadows, the atmospheric uplighting helping her bruised tales of love and loss float on up to the rafters. Her hushed vocal, equal parts smoke and honey, then ushers in a late-night hymnal as comfortable with the vulnerable and defiant (“Break Me”) as it is in exchanging countrified harmonies with the impressive Heather Woods-Broderick.

It’s a cherry-picked set from her two most recent LPs truth be told. The superlative Tramp gets a deserved airing via the ever-standout cut “Give Out”, as well as with a suitably reverential version of “Save Yourself” … though it’d have been nice to have the epic “Serpents” too. Always leave them wanting more, so they say. From this year’s potentially breakthrough LP, Are We There, it’s “Our Love” with its slow-burn keys and dreamy licks that proves most irresistible. And though these moments and others linger long in the memory, it turns out that Sharon Van Etten live is like Sharon Van Etten on record: perhaps just one monumentally powerful statement away from bringing a rapt audience to their knees.