It is the first night of the tour and Siobhan Wilson is back. The obscenely talented Scot – who with typical modesty describes herself as an “artist and classical musician who spends most of her time as a singer-songwriter with an electric guitar” – returns to York some six months after her last (and her very first) visit to the city. Back in September, she played in the much more intimate surroundings of The Basement; this time around she is in the more expansive surroundings of The Crescent Community Venue, the dishevelled charm of this former working men’s club providing the most perfect environment in which to listen to the stripped-back austerity of her sound.
Siobhan Wilson likes to keep busy. She arrives in town off the back of another successful appearance at Glasgow’s annual Celtic Connections festival – where she performed her second album There Are No Saints in its entirety and with a string quartet (The Demi Octet) – and a really positive response to her Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for her next album.
Accompanied tonight by guitarist Ken Belcher – a fellow student at the University of Edinburgh, where they are both completing a part-time Masters degree in Composition for Screen – Siobhan Wilson plays just one new song. Destined for the new album – which is slated for a July release – ‘Marry You’ is a spiky blast of folk-punk. Driven along its path by Belcher’s persistent guitar, the song is at marked odds with the other material she performs this evening.
Half of the songs here are drawn from There Are No Saints, the record that was released in July of last year and suddenly propelled Siobhan Wilson out from beneath the wider singer-songwriter shadow and into the far greater luminance of recognition that becomes a very special talent. She does start with some trepidation but by the time that she reaches ‘Make You Mine’ four songs in any signs of nerves have completely evaporated. On this and the ensuing ‘Dear God’, Wilson reflects much of their parent record’s vulnerability, heartache and its often fruitless search for answers.
Then, out of nowhere and apparently in response to some random Facebook request, Siobhan Wilson takes on the might of ‘Anarchy In The UK’. Despite its nihilistic intent and the fact that Wilson slows the Sex Pistols’ classic down to an almost funereal pace – with an accompanying softening of its edges – she still manages to retain the song’s innate sense of defiance and protest.
‘Paris Est Blanche’ and the evening’s richly deserved encore of ‘J’Attendrai’ – with Siobhan Wilson returning to the stage alone, accompanying herself on electric piano – are sung in French and remind us not only of the five years that Wilson spent living in Paris but also of the love affair that was to ultimately end in heartbreak for her. You can still feel some of her pain as she emotes their powerful words, but you are left feeling that Siobhan Wilson finds herself in a much stronger position today both emotionally and musically.
Photo credit: Simon Godley
More photos from this show can be found HERE
Upcoming Live Dates:
11th April – Cardiff, Gwdihw
12th April – London, St Pancras Old Church
13th April – Kenilworth, The Tree House Bookshop
14th April – Sheffield, Rileys & Co
15th April – Salford, The Eagle Inn
19th April – Aviemore, Old Bridge Inn
28th April – Edinburgh, The Reid Concert Hall (with the Demi Octet)