Wednesday, 16 December 2009

693 JULIANA HATFIELD, Chris Colbourn and Hilken Mancini, London Shepherd's Bush Bush Hall, Wednesday 8 March 2006

The first gig in a hectic March was the much-anticipated return of an old Boston favourite who'd not muddied these shores since 1995! Indeed she only played Reading Festival that year, having cancelled a solo tour earlier that year due to nervous exhaustion. The excellent Fuzzy were scheduled tour support, and I had tickets - d'oh! Anyway, enthusiasm for this was initially tempered by the news from EdV that Juliana was "flying solo" on this tour, rather than bringing her band - which included both Ed and fellow Gravel Pit man Pete Caldes! Then enthusiasm was revived by Buffalo Tom man Chris Colbourn and ex-Fuzzy vocalist Hilken Mancini being announced as support. Lose some, win some...

So Tim, Penny and I scooted down the M4, parking up and meeting Rachel (working/ shopping in London today!) in the venue just before Chris and Hilken's set at 8.15. They were all amped up and accompanied by a drummer, which unfortunately tended to smother their fine vocal interplay somewhat. The set, almost exclusively from their fine recent CD, was beset with sound problems, and their Buffalo Tom gone country (the apples don't fall too far from the tree, after all!) easy melodic material occasionally sounded discordant. That said, a brilliant "Darl" was a real highlight, and the set overall was entertaining despite the issues, Chris insisting on introducing each track as either a "good girl" or a "bad girl" song!

Juliana was next up, prompting a mass of male movement towards the front, even to take pix of her tuning up! Looking older and stick-thin, Juliana kicked off with a technically-beset "Hotel" which needed 3 attempts to finish! This unfortunately set the tone for her set - she seemed distracted, either mentally or pharmaceutically, we couldn't decide, but the opening numbers seemed a chore until an excellent "Girl In A Box" seemed to rescue things somewhat. However, 20 minutes and a fine "Everybody Loves Me But You" later, we nipped into the bar, disappointed that she didn't have the whole band with her, as in the acoustic stakes her melodic college pop doesn't have the quality of, say, the Lemonheads material, and solo, it just seemed a little flimsy and lacking much-needed oomph.

However a disappointing evening was rescued by our running into Chris Colbourn at the bar, who remembered us from various Boston encounters, and we spent time chatting and being bought drinks by this very affable Bostonian. Popped back in for the denouement, which included a discordant "Spin The Bottle" and a good "Raisans", and Juliana promising to bring her band next time. Let's hope so!

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