LIVE REVIEW: Sharon Van Etten, Newcastle

Sharon Van Etten

Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle, 20th August 2019

Words & Photography: Sammy Sadler

From the first track I listened to by Sharon Van Etten, I was hooked. I was first introduced to the Brooklyn-based musician and actress whilst listening to copious amounts of The National and it was Van Etten’s silky vocals transforming into raw gritty vocals that carry her rock chick demeanour which had me obsessed. The release of album Remind Me Tomorrow at the start of 2019 only enhanced this and I was regularly playing the LP on Spotify alongside some of my other fave artists at the minute. 

As soon as the news hit that she was playing the Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Newcastle, I knew I had to be there but nothing could have genuinely prepared me for the gig I witnessed. Phenomenal and stunning both aesthetically and musically – I’m still on a high as I write this now. 

Opening the show was American musician and composer Heather Woods Broderick. Despite playing in Van Etten’s band over the past eight years, I wasn’t familiar with Woods Broderick’s work but what an absolute treat it was. Supported by a bassist and drummer, Woods Broderick held the audience with ease as she navigated through her setlist. From the get-go everything from the way Woods Broderick played to the lighting dancing around the stage had me dazzled.

Each intricate instrumental was produced with love and care as Woods Broderick’s sweet vocals produced envious harmonies that soared around the large, silent room. Tracks like Where I Lay created such atmospheric backdrops that it was easy to get lost as each note engulfed you. A stunning performance and perfect opener for Van Etten. 

Following a short interval, it was time for Van Etten to headline and I was genuinely really excited. Woods Broderick had expertly set the atmosphere to cling from the ceiling and it was ready to drop at the moment Van Etten got on stage to perform and what a performance it was.

I have been to hundreds of gigs and I remember at least one thing about the majority of them but this one is something I’m likely to remember in entirety for a long time to come. Every single person in the audience was hooked to Van Etten’s performance as she belted out each track with passionate, raw energy that left me without words. I think when you go to a gig and it actually makes you feel something it’s something really special and I had ALL THE FEELS that evening.

Van Etten’s amalgamation of folk and rock with a nod to the country genre at times is admirable recorded but each song she sang live was on a whole new level. Switching between dulcet crooning to mellifluous piercing notes, Van Etten and her band introduced the theatre to an array of soundscapes and undertones that were mesmerising. 

Strutting around the stage, the Van Etten looked completely at ease as she belted out the more raucous tracks such as the funky Comeback Kid boasting powerful percussions, whimsical synths and grungy bass lines to the softer Malibu with its futuristic keys and soothing vocals. 

Stripping it right back, Van Etten’s band left the stage for her to perform a haunting cover of Sinead O’Connor’s Black Boys On Mopeds as a stance on equality and respecting each other. Truly a moment for goosebumps, the pyrotechnics added to the whole performance and it really was sensational. 

Perhaps the best part of the gig had to be when Van Etten performed Seventeen and I can comfortably say that it’s one of the best live performances of a song I’ve been lucky enough to witness. Each note was filled with such raw emotion and as Van Etten screamed into the darkness of the audience, you could tell everyone was blown away as they craned their necks to get a better look. 

Leaving the stage saying “we want to send you all away with the message of love, because you can’t have enough of it” and treating everyone to an impressive encore, Van Etten and co fully deserved the enormous standing ovation that they received. 

This will be a gig that those in attendance will talk about for a long time and I really hope I get to see Van Etten in the not too distant future. Next time though I’ll opt for a standing venue so I can have a good old dance to the rockier songs. 

One Response to “LIVE REVIEW: Sharon Van Etten, Newcastle”
  1. Tim says:

    This was easily one of the best gigs I’ve been to for a long, long time. A potent mix of professionalism, and raw emotion from start to finish. Only downside was the Venue- nothing wrong with the Tyne Theatre but it ( almost) sucked some of the passion out of the performance. Not a venue for big, electronic music like this but Sharon Van Etten overcame this and delivered a brilliant performance.


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