by / November 2nd, 2009 /

Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions – Vicar St

Hope Sandoval always had a reputation for being difficult. In the days of Mazzy Star it was standard-fare for this indie chanteuse to conduct interviews with shades on giving single-word answers. During the early-90’s Sandoval pioneered alternative dream pop and her obstinate repute was taken as the sour against the sweetness of her talent, immeasurable beauty and of course that voice.

It seems little has changed. The show in Vicar St came with rules and instructions from the doormen. No bar during the show. No photography, with or without flash. Phones were on silent for fear of Nokia’s Cicada interrupting the set, which would result in an immediate end to the gig.

However, when the Warm Inventions took to the stage in MF DOOM style Halloween masks the festive cheer instantly dispersed any audience nervousness.

The stage was dimly lit in blue and purple with an outline of Hope in the centre wearing a white tu-tu style skirt. Opening with Nick Drakes’ -Courtin’ Blues’ her voice fills the room like a velvety fog; husky, dense and saccharine and the effect is instantly calming and atmospheric.

Earlier this year Hope Sandoval released Through The Devil Softly, her second album with The Warm Inventions. Along with her partner Colm Ó Cíosóig (My Bloody Valentine), the pair created a lush album that has all the aesthetics of her previous works but possibly not as strong on melody as 2001’s Bavarian Fruit Bread. In saying that, when performed live the band inject hooks into the material that didn’t jump out on the record. The percussion is soft and sophisticated. The guitar is reverb-heavy with tinges of country blues. There’s a shimmering interplay between guitar and vocals on -Blanchard’. Hope flits from harmonica to xylophone lifting the music by adding some inticrate details.

There’s very little interaction with the audience, except to announce Colm’s birthday followed by a brief ‘Happy Birthday’ sing-along. The backdrop has visuals of ballerinas, eerie Vegas scenes and old tour footage. -There’s a Willow’ finds Sandoval in a reflective mood while on -Blue Bird’ she wonders ‘Is there a devil in your eyes?’.

From Bavarian Fruit Bread, -Charlotte’ is a delicate ballad delivered with the familiar breathy vocal but it’s -Suzanne’ that is greeted with a warmest reception of the night. The entire set was soothing, hazy and captivating but also sedative (in a good way). So when as the band closed the set with -For The Rest of Your Life’, it was thrilling to find the them spin off in a dark, chaotic psychedlic jam.

Perhaps there’s an element of artistic personalilty syndrome about Hope Sandoval, the rumours and reports are not unfounded; she has been witnessed storming off stage on several occasions. Perhaps its for all the right reasons; to create a stage that projects her voice and her music as she would like it to be experienced. And when it works, it works beautifully.

  • As beautiful as it may be, it all sounds irritatingly portentous to me. She sounds incredibly precious, and no matter how good she is, needs to realize that she owes her position to the audience who pay to see her. And while it might be understandable to ask for phones to be turned off, threatening to walk off stage in front of a paying audience should one ring is just far too self involved. Much like Morrisey and his ‘wont’t perform within site or smell of a meat-selling restaurant/ stall’ policy.

    Give it up, Hope, you’re not that important.

  • I understand what you are saying James. I heard reports that the Galway show wasn’t great, marred by bad sound. If that was the case in Vicar St then maybe the review would reflect your sentiments. However the show on Halloween night was very enjoyable, for me anyway, so Ms Sandoval’s demands and behaviour didn’t seem unreasonable.

  • No, by all means give her a good review if she deserves it, Alan, of course! I just think, regardless of the good stuff she comes out with, she really has to re-think her almost fascist attitude to performing live. As much as I don’t think people should have their phones on in a gig like this, either, I think the embarrassment when one goes off and getting evil-eyed for the rest of the gig is more than enough.

    It reminds me of the teacher who punishes the entire class when one person doesn’t do their homework. And I mean that in the sense that she treats everyone like kids, too. She’s gone much too far, and storming off stage etc. is just a bit pathetic really.She didn’t do it in this show, so you’re absolutely right not to give her a bad review over it :).

  • johnny

    she’s an absolute pain in the hole,a pre madonna with an ice cold voice surrounded by minnows and yes thank you very much.

  • AnneM

    I scoured the web yesterday to see if I could find any comments re Saturday’s gig of Hope Sandoval so glad to see them today.
    I have to say , I got free tickets to it and on retrospect if you had paid me a wad of cash to see her and the Warm Inventions with the knowledge I now have, I would tell you where to stuff it…up Hope’s tutu!! As woeful and self indulgent as she is…what I could not fathom is the reverent following of fans at the gig and I wonder what is it that I am missing – for me, it was nothing than a half-hearted attempt at making a musical performance more an art event – music is not oort , music is MUSIC…a blend of rhythms, sounds, spirit and words which oddly enough Hope doesn’t have in one cell of her body – is she having us all on and all the oorty followers at Vicar st. I am nearly as shocked at what passes for music these days as I am about 3% payrise to BOI officials. Your review is nicely put together but could you not have been a bit meaner….or is it the visual winning over the aural once again!

  • David White

    I don’t think sitting quietly in the dark for an hour is too much to ask from any audience. Especially when said audience were treated to a night of hypnotic, intoxicating music. Music that at times became more than the sum of its parts and entered into the domain of high art, yes music does that sometimes (re: AnneM). Excuse the hyperbole, but on a few occassions the combination of O’Ciosoig’s blistering drum workouts, Sandoval’s Glockenspiel noodlings and the haze of guitar gave a transcendent effect. On the subject of whether people were more interested in watching Miss Sandoval rather than listening to the sounds, she could barely be seen due to the minimal stage lighting. Good review Alan.

  • re: David. I agree with you totally on the audience should be able to sit quietly for an hour part, but the artist also needs to respect the majority of the (paying) audience should that not happen. That’s the part I take issue with.

  • edie

    Having encountered ms sandoval and her “entourage” on the tour,i’m inclined to agree with both AnneM’s and Johhny’s comments..i don’t agree entirely on the “ice cold” voice,i think she does have a good singing voice,but personally i found it to be a bit too affected and not my cup of tea for long term listening,so i won’t be buying the cd,the light show wasn’t bad though and god knows it is seriously needed to liven up the visual impact of the gigs because not a lot going on there without it!
    i can only imagine what a stifled yawn the show would be otherwise as natural performers they are not ! no charisma in sight..methinks the reverent following of fans have bought into the image of the artist which is of course different from the reality of the person behind it and unfortunately that shows in the flesh matter how rose tinted the glasses are ! and judging by the reviews of the new york shows on the brooklyn vegan site it would seem that a lot of fans have had their hope sandoval balloon well and truly burst by the lady herself,i don’t think i’ve ever seen such harsh comments from fans about a gig.

    However as far as being “surrounded by minnows and yes men” from what i have witnessed i would say that is a spot on observation,how else could someone continue to throw hissy fits otherwise ? the only thing i could add to that is perhaps, that from what i can gather the minnows and yes men are generally swimming in a pool of alcohol etc,and a very small pool at that ! but i’m sure it’s required to take the sting out of being at someone’s beck and call whilst allowing them their “whims” on a tour,it can’t be entirely pleasant,
    i wonder do they show their wives/partners/girlfriends/boyfriends the same patience and adoration ?

  • AstonishingSodApe

    What David White said. The gig was mesmerising. Phenomenal stuff.