Music review: Adrianne Lenker, Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow

More front porch folk singer than country diva, Adrianne Lenker had her audience in the palm of her hand with a winning combination of mellifluous guitar picking and poetic, evocative lyrics, writes Fiona Shepherd

Adrianne Lenker, Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow ****

Adrianne Lenker was quietly concerned for her audience. “Stay hydrated, bend your knees,” she advised at the start of her set. Or just lean in and luxuriate in her beautiful, intimate songs. As frontwoman of the ardently admired Big Thief, songs pour out of her at such a rate that double albums followed up by simultaneous releases under her own name are not uncommon.

There was hushed anticipation before every song – what will she cherrypick from her considerable catalogue? – then excited whoops in recognition and a vociferous response afterwards, all the more amplified next to the tenderness and fragility of the songs. In her Stetson and checked shirt, Lenker was more front porch folk than country diva, combining mellifluous guitar picking with her distinctive voice, breathy but with strong character, enunciating simple, poetic, evocative lyrics.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Adrianne Lenker PIC: Matt Cowan/Getty ImagesAdrianne Lenker PIC: Matt Cowan/Getty Images
Adrianne Lenker PIC: Matt Cowan/Getty Images

Occasional tuning interludes were required but it was worth the wait to witness the rich texture and playful playing on Simulation Swarm and the Cohenesque undulating style of The Only Place.

She took birthday requests, opting for the desolate romance of zombie girl before being joined for a number of songs by support act Nick Hakim on soft touch vocals and electric piano. Their duet Free Treasure was a portrait of domestic contentment, as easy as a familiar relationship.

Lenker also indulged herself with a personal favourite, forwards beckon rebound, and introduced a new song Before You, which already sounds like a timeless classic. For now, Big Thief’s gentle but pacey Vampire Empire elicited the mass singalong, with patchwork whistling from the audience too.

The encore rendition of Oldest was pin-drop stuff, followed by the autobiographical snapshots of Real House and a further mellow sing-song to Sadness As a Gift, a deserved fan favourite graced by Hakim’s lovely electric piano playing.

Related topics: