rose hip november

as is probably obvious from my blog, it’s rare that i stray outside of the general world of electronic music. so last sunday i dusted off my (figurative) folk hate and my (literal) sufjan stevens tee and wandered to whelan’s for the homelights festival. it had an extensive lineup, but, speaking honestly, i was just there for vashti bunyan. i’ve been a fan for a few years, and i revel in telling people a) that just another diamond day was the first album i ever listened to straight through twice in a row, it was that good, and b) that it was largely written by bunyan as she travelled from london to the isle of skye by horse and cart. that’s, like, so not me! omg! without thinking, as soon as i heard she was playing dublin, i bought my ticket. as it happens, sunday was horrible. the flooding that has destroyed half this island finally hit dublin (at least western parts of it), but that wasn’t going to deter me.

vashti as preceded by an unassuming man, who came out on stage with a bouzuki and a harmonica and sang songs of love, war, friendship and humour. i was blown away by andy irvine, founding member of planxty, whose honest and sometimes brutal songs, and simple yet in no ways simplistic style spoke directly and plainly to everyone in the room.

and then vashti came out. flanked by a guitarist and a multi-instrumentalist (who played keyboard, flute and omnichord among others), she spoke in hushed tones about her songs and the inspiration that led to their creation. it was a delight to learn, for example, that just another diamond day was born on a train in belgium, that winter is blue and i’d like to walk around in your mind were written by the same person, that she thought she’d never play jog along bess again but that her guitarist used to just fall into it during lulls in rehearsal time, that this was the first time she’d ever performed rose hip november in november… it was magical. i don’t often say that about gigs, but this really was something special. the afore-mentioned omnichord gave new and beautiful life to glow worms, imbuing it with a dark undertone of foreboding, which seemed to mirror vashti’s disillusionment with both her own bucolic ideals and the music industry itself… i don’t think i’ll ever see her like again.

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