Thursday, 7 March 2019

GIG REVIEW: Angel Snow - Kitchen Garden, Kings Heath, Birmingham. Wednesday 6th March 2019

Eighteen months have elapsed since Angel Snow last played the Kitchen Garden in Birmingham and changes were very much at a finely tuned minimum as she returned to play one of the opening dates on her latest UK tour. On the upgrade side, last time’s solo performance grew into a duo as Angel teamed up with English guitarist Joe Wilkins to provide the perfect stringed accompaniment to her supremely crafted songs. Additionally, a set of new tunes began the journey from artist to listener as she introduced her latest record, an EP titled ARROWS. Whether Angel delivered her signature song, ‘Lie Awake’, from nearly a decade ago now, or brand new numbers like ‘Maze’ and ‘Window Seat’, the shear magnetic quality was unyielding and matching the magnitude of a blue chip blueprint.

On her previous visit, which doubled up on the touring front with Danish singer-songwriter Ida Wenoe, Angel split the guitar duties between acoustic and electric, with the latter contributing to the evening’s atmospheric ambience. This time Angel handed all the electric duties to Joe and his subtle excellence ensured each of the songs had a coating of the most mindful of soundtracks. Left to concentrate on acoustic guitar and generous inter-song chats, the vocals never sounded better using the combination of slight amplification and venue acoustics to induce a state of blissful serenity to those in listening distance.

Running through a set of songs dated old and new, highlights joining the aforementioned Angel Snow classic (for those uninitiated ‘Lie Awake’ was cut by Alison Krauss on her PAPER AIRPLANE album, but each rendition by the originator seals the ownership) included ‘I Need You’ and a mesmerising version of ‘Vienna’ just the before the closing moment came. Fact is the high quality plateau never lowered all set.  

One conundrum occurring each time Angel Snow plays a live show is why this Franklin resident (the one just south of Nashville) has not been more prolific on the recording front. In turn, she probably remains an untapped talent to a wider audience, a situation that contradicts the enormous impact she has on those aligned with the hypnotic vibes of her songs in full flow. However, fate follows certain paths and at least being able to savour these songs in intimate settings on what is becoming a regular basis is a blessing.

The notion of leaving the audience wanting more was perhaps taken a little to the extreme during this show with a playing time of sixty minutes (without a support) probably short by a quarter of an hour in the eyes of most people. The impeccable performance left the overall show in the credit column, but maybe some pondering thoughts generate when assessing the balance between content and customer investment, the latter in both cost and time.

These Angel Snow shows do rather tiptoe into the gig landscape, but the impact of the evening resonates in the aftermath. This Kitchen Garden return was a triumph of substance over hyperbole and those attending had the pleasure of a fixated musical experience.