Returning to the UK after a triumphant first headline tour last winter and a handful of shows in support of Bon Iver back in March, the LA-born singer Phoebe Bridgers was making the most of her appearance Brighton’s Great Escape last weekend with a few extra, intimate, dates around the country.
This time armed with a drummer and strings / keys player alongside the ever present Harrison Whitford on guitar, Phoebe Bridgers stepped out into one of Liverpool’s lesser known venues for a performance that shimmered with sadness and dazzled with despair.
Whether it was her dress, the colorful hanging lights, the tiny disco balls, the tasteful arrangements of her songs, her heartbreaking sincerity or the cheap, sparkle-covered, guitar she often played, everything she did glittered in a dreamy haze that brought the sold out (and very sweaty) crowd to a total silence.
With the violin fleshing out the sound, the grief never felt so raw in ‘Smoke Signals’ and ‘Funeral’ which helped open the set. But its not all about these fragile tales as the uptempo ‘Georgia’ saw the band open up for a swinging folk-pop jaunt and ‘Demi Moore’ burst into a spacey instrumental helped by Bridgers’s own blissed out guitar tones.
And, while the songs are drenched in sadness, the Phoebe Bridgers between songs has goofy stories about smoking weed, bathroom faucets and exploring Liverpool.
Throw in a cover of Tom Petty’s ‘It’ll All Work Out’ for good measure before a self-confessed “softcore” version of ‘Motion Sickness’ and the night was drawing to a close. Re-emerging for an unorthodox encore of their slowest and saddest number (a Mark Kozelek cover of ‘You Missed My Heart’) it felt like a fitting wind down to the night.
It was the perfect evening in which Phoebe Bridgers showed off all her masterful debut album ‘Strangers In The Alps’. The captivating performance served up a spectrum of emotions varying from utter devastation to goosebump induced awe from one song to the next but carried through with the sort of charm and modesty that makes her so damn likeable.
It might only be the start for Phoebe Bridgers but from one to show to the next she is making huge strides. She isn’t the millennial voice of heartbreak we deserve but the one we need.