Joanna Newsom, Homefires - Conway Hall 19.9.2004
This was the first time I had heard Joanna Newsom play live. I think the first time I came across her was in a magazine called Careless Talk Costs Lives, and I was intrigued by the photographs, and the interview, the instrument and just her really. She spoke very beautifully about her dedication to her music. I must have got the Milk Eyed Mender LP before this gig as I knew all the songs by then. Her work is pretty irresistible for me. The harp ties in to bardic story telling traditions of early British history, and the long narrative lyrics are totally wonderful when you are in the business of telling and illustrating stories. This gig was late, and rather squashed. We saw Smog first, and when she came on there was a terrific rush of people to the stage. She appeals to men of a certain age who are all, unfortunately for me, rather tall. Some even wear hats, and sway around to obstruct the view. Pretty difficult drawing conditions really. I noticed a balcony but didn't manage the adventure of finding my way to a better vantage point. I didn't want to miss the music. I've never had any difficulty listening to her voice. I am a fan of a lot of 'unlistenable' vocal techniques, possessing a large collection of Topic LP's of wonderful old voices captured over the last 100 years singing ancient folk songs. I particularly love Shirley Collins, and I find the honesty and untrained purity of her voice completely addictive. It makes your hairs stand on end.