Meg Baird – The Basement, Brighton, 6/12/11

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The wind-battered folk lot are at home in this earthy Brighton venue chosen for Meg Baird’s final UK show. The exposed brickwork and iron beams give The Basement an attractive, un-kept quality. The tiered seating complete with living-room cushioning provides a snug sanctuary from the damning weather outside. Leaving your inhibitions behind (on the stairs) couldn’t be easier.

Using only her voice and guitar, Baird steers us towards a meditative state within seconds through the weightless lure of her voice. Her performance is uncompromised – she plays for herself, not the audience. The lack of chit-chat indicates a belief that her music is enough to carry her along, and she is right for the most part. Her instinctual fingerpicking accompanies a sway of vocal that appears to confess all. If only we could hear the confession –the lyrics are often indecipherable which provides a welcome enigma at first but soon becomes tiresome. It’s a shame because song’s such as ‘All I Ever Wanted‘ stand out for their un-flowery delivery.

The named song signals an exploitation of innocence: “You keep bringing your friends to me/You keep bringing your men to me/You keep bringing your world to me/And all I ever wanted was your loving”. The poignancy of the lyrics and Baird’s heartfelt conveyance manages to breaks down that translucent wall for the length of the song. Other songs aren’t as successful and a few seem to go on for an age which is evidenced through whispering/yawning couples and the grabbing of coats.

Towards the closing, Baird says a few words. Without her comfort blanket of song, she seems uneasy. She nervously laughs about her preference of ballads about sex over murder ballads before happily plunging into a traditional ballad of her favoured variety. She explores the twists of the song through ethereal swoops. She regains her power through her obvious fondness of the tale and keeps the remaining group seated to the end.

Meg Baird Myspace

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