LIVE: Jesca Hoop – Howard Assembly Room, Leeds, 04/12/2022 1

LIVE: Jesca Hoop – Howard Assembly Room, Leeds, 04/12/2022

“I don’t know? What do you figure? Are we the same? Or vastly different?”

This is Jesca Hoop’s first direct interaction with the audience tonight, each probing question separated by a dramatic pause as the American singer, songwriter, and guitarist resolutely eyeballs some spot in the middle distance of the hall. By this time, she has already performed a stunning, deeply empowering ‘Hatred Has A Mother’, a song dedicated to the practice of Revolutionary Love, in itself a force for justice and a freedom from hate.

It is already clear that this concert will not be running along any conventional tramlines. It will be strange, subversive, charming, utterly compelling, and most refreshingly unique. By the time that Jesca Hoop departs the stage following a breathtaking, a cappella, solo version of ‘Storm Makes Grey The Sea’ she will have played 14 songs in total and shared with us her thoughts and feelings on a bewilderingly diverse range of subjects from ghosting, gaslighting, and reincarnation to relationship breakdown, the death spiral of ants, and this evening’s football match between England and Senegal.

Jesca Hoop is now coming into the home straight of her Order of Romance tour, a 23-date jaunt across Europe and the United Kingdom that began some five weeks ago in Breda in the southern Netherlands and will end on the 17th of December at Hallé St Peter’s in her adopted home town of Manchester. Jesca Hoop will then be a mere eight days away from being able to say, “Christmas is coming.”

Kirana Peyton, Jesca Hoop, Chloe Foye

Named after her sixth album which was released in September, the tour sees Jesca Hoop joined by her long-term musical collaborator Kirana Peyton on bodhrán and guitar and Chloe Foye on bass guitar and keyboards. Foye is certainly earning her corn tonight, having already put in a delightfully sterling shift tonight as support act.

To populate her setlist, Jesca Hoop raids Order of Romance, plundering no less than seven songs from that record. Anchored by the gentle tattoo of Kirana Peyton’s framed drum, Hoop carefully finger-picks each melody on her guitar. Chloe Foye adds further ballast, and when switching to keyboard, spectral atmospherics, as Hoop’s voice weaves its mesmerising way over the difficult emotional terrain of patriarchy, politics, and possibilities for personal safety.

On ‘One Way Mirror’ – a song about religious cults – Jesca Hoop’s gasping breaths are eerily echoed by Chloe Foye, who also adds a ghostly whirr to ‘Free of The Feeling’. A strong sense of the supernatural pervades. And before ‘Like I Am Time’, Jesca Hoop suggests that she would like to have a window into an age before the nuclear family. But wherever she looks, she does so with a vivid imagination, clear compassion, and a freewheeling singularity.  

Jesca Hoop

Photos: Simon Godley

More photos from Jesca Hoop at Howard Assembly Room.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.