Dawn Landes live at Club Uncut

I didn’t plan to blog today, fancying a computer-free Easter weekend and all, but this morning I felt compelled to write about Dawn Landes’ show at our first Club Uncut last night. A few days ago, I think I described her as being some kind of cross between Chan Marshall and Laura Veirs. Well, I got that completely wrong.

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I didn’t plan to blog today, fancying a computer-free Easter weekend and all, but this morning I felt compelled to write about Dawn Landes’ show at our first Club Uncut last night. A few days ago, I think I described her as being some kind of cross between Chan Marshall and Laura Veirs. Well, I got that completely wrong.



Landes’ recent album, “Fireproof”, seemed pretty enough to me, if a little prim. But her live show is something else. In the current pantheon of vaguely rootsy, vaguely alternative female singers, I guess the best comparison would be with Jenny Lewis, or, at a push, Neko Case: Landes certainly works in this bracket, with an exuberance and forthright tone rather than po-faced discretion.

Consequently, there’s never a hint of the preciousness or earnestness that can sometimes afflict alt-country, and a real swing that really comes to the fore when she swaps her acoustic for an electric. Landes is accompanied by a drummer with a threatening beard and, occasionally, a harmonica and music box, and the combination of his hearty thump with her fuzzy, racing guitar often reminds me of something like The Black Keys: the best song from “Fireproof”, “Bodyguard”, is now a faintly bluesy prowl rather than a pensive groove.

It’s a fantastic transformation, and the heaviness is so well deployed that it never smothers the songs or overwhelms Landes’ notably powerful voice. At one point, there’s even a vague affinity with Neil Young circa “Tonight’s The Night”, with that strangely vivid, ragged plod. Oh, and she does neat covers of Tom Waits and Taj Mahal, and skips the whimsical bluegrass cover of Peter, Bjorn & John’s “Young Folks” which initially made her name. Got to say, I didn’t miss it.

Thanks to everyone who came down to the Borderline, anyway – it was a pretty busy night, and Liz Green played a nice set, too. And while I don’t want to change the blog into some kind of Club Uncut advertorial, I have a really interesting night lined up for April – more news about that next week, I promise.

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