Laura Veirs – Komedia, Brighton – 11th June 2018

Photo by Jamie MacMillan

“We trade slaps for sighs, it’s that point of the tour”. Fear not, Laura Veirs has not become slap-happy over the two months that she has been on the road in support of her tenth solo studio album The Lookout. Instead, as the final night brings her to Brighton, there is a palpable sense of celebration and mischief around the singer-songwriter and her band. The Lookout was yet another fine addition to the Veirs canon with its meditations on the fragility of modern life, and tonight brought the album’s subtleties to the fore and showed her for what she is – one of the most impressive, and most interesting, singers and songwriters operating today.

Support comes from Amaroun, the latest project from Peckham’s Jay Brown, a singer with a beautifully smokey voice. It is a stripped back, gentle affair, with songs like ‘Made A Fire’ painting an evocative picture of her journey after coming out, a huge moment for someone from a devout Jamaican Christian background. ‘Island’ possesses a real bite, showing another side of Amaroun, on what is a promising support slot that is extremely well received by the Komedia crowd.

Beginning with the exquisite ‘Margaret Sands’ and ‘Everybody Needs You’, it is immediately clear that Veirs and her hugely talented band are going to showcase musicianship of the highest order. Tuning and retuning after (and occasionally during) each song, Veirs puts on a masterclass in the craft of songwriting. With a heartfelt message of gratitude to the onlooking Simon Raymonde, who brought Veirs to his Bella Union label, she moves lightly through what has slowly and quietly become an extensive back catalogue. ‘When You Give Your Heart’ is gorgeous, a subtle merging of sounds from the group delicately adding to a melange that ebbs and flows in style and speed. ‘Wide-Eyed, Legless’ skips and takes flight, while ‘Spelunking’ slows everything down to let it all sink in on a wide-eyed and rapturous audience.

That twin pace continues throughout the show, Veirs moving from guitar to keyboard for the beautifully fragile ‘The Meadow’. MVP for the evening, however, is undoubtedly Alex Guy on viola. Her solo on ‘White Cherry’ acts as if to untether the evening and the show from its earthly surroundings, sending it soaring into the heavens on a rendition that almost moves into psychedelia. ‘Galaxies’ and ‘Watch Fire’ bring a crowd-pleasing finale to the boil, before Amaroun joins the band for a pounding version of ‘July Flame’. The flow of the evening is perfect, a slow-burning set of songs that cumulatively creep into your bones. “We can’t ignore that” Veirs smiles as she returns to the stage after frenzied applause, the perfect wrap to a tour that has solidified her reputation as an artist of rare ability. “We’ve got the sun to thank” she gently sings on the closing ‘Sun Song’, a sentiment that is instead sent in her direction by an extremely grateful audience.

Jamie MacMillan