HEADLINER: JULIEN BAKER | VENUE: GORILLA, MANCHESTER
DATE: 24TH SEPTEMBER 2018 | RATING: 10 / 10
“Fancy a cry tonight?”, reads the routinely pre-show drinking message. Whilst it would normally seem a little out of the usual to be replacing our usual beverage for that of a more salty one, with heart string pullers such as JULIEN BAKER (10), well, it seems like the most suitable option.
You have never heard a silence fall upon a venue tonight like you have when Miss Baker takes to the stage of Manchester’s Gorilla. With the venue draped in a melancholy deep blue, the opening guitar tones of Sprained Ankle rings out, and hushes fall across the crowd, even forcing bar staff to hold back closing their tills.. Suddenly the silence is pierced with a roaring applaud, a shy Julien thanking the crowd in a Juno take Ellin Page-esque way. Whilst her previous performance at Manchester’s Deaf Institute saw her flying solo with only her powerful voice and guitar to accompany her, tonight’s performance is taken to a whole other special level.
“tonight’s songs are honest in their approach to vulnerability, and for many in the room tHIS performance becomes a place of solace.”
Accompanied by a mellow and yet just as compelling violinist, the next hour and a half can be comparable to an intense session of therapy. “This song is about going to therapy on an April Fool’s day… the least funny April Fool’s day.” Honestly reflects Baker. Agreeable, tonight’s songs are honest in their approach to vulnerability, and for many in the room tonight’s performance becomes a place of solace.
It is, however, the triple heart tearing whammy of the theatrically orchestrated Sour Breath, Appointments and Turn Out The Lights that well and truly brings everyone to tears. Between these three overwhelming anthems, small pockets of sobs can be heard dispersed throughout the crowd, as Baker’s angelical voice takes us back to our most personal, beloved, hopeful, and heart breaking memories.
Tonight Miss Baker’s performance not only brought forward the importance of unity and solace found within music, as well as how it can take just the simplest of setups and a strikingly beautiful voice to overshadow mass stage shows of pyros and backdrops, but well and truly brought home how deafening the sound of silence can be.
WORDS: GEORGIA RAWSON | PHOTOS: JOE SHERIDAN