Jesca Hoop – Nice ‘n’ Sleazy – 13/02/2010

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Jesca Hoop 01Oisin Kealy

Support is important. Pillars, counsellors, bras — if all of these things suddenly disappeared there would be disastrous, and in some cases humourously puerile, consequences. Support bands, ideally, should warm up a crowd for the main act. A carbon copy is not what you want, but it is always good practice to attempt towards some point of similarity. Unfortunately tonight, all we were given was a point of collision that proved impossible to recover from, despite the valiant efforts of tonight’s sidelined star.

Superbad Comrade, a band with their neck painfully craned not only westward but back in time also, were not particular good. They sound like the kind of band that might play the Bronze in an episode of Buffy, and not a very good episode. This is no great sin in itself, different stroked for tasteless folks and all that, and on another night my wordcount would not be wasted mentioning them, but the lasting effect is seen in the crowd attracted: a crowd, objectively speaking, of ignorant loudmouths.

Hoop tries to be philosophical. “Well, we can’t change what we do, we can only do what we do, no matter what is going on in the back”, and beginning as she does with the flute-like siren call of Whispering Light, we get a good idea of just what it is that Hoop does. The cabaret influence of her previous album Kismet has left its mark on her newer material, but tonight’s songs are much more introspective, akin to a kind of stripped-down, celtic goth-pop, owing much to Kate Bush and Nick Drake, but with shades of Robert Smith pervading. Feast of the Heart is another great example of this, though the unexpected hip-hop assault through the bridge gives us a more modern reference point, as well as setting the scene for the kind of playful rhythms Hoop employs. Four Dreams is the pinnacle of this, the syncopated melody recalling the frenetic excitement of playground chanting, while the infectious, radio-friendly chorus of “come and bring your stereo” has great potential to become a break-through single with a bit of luck and the right exposure.

Angel Mom, a song dealing with the recent death of Hoop’s mother, is delivered heartbreakingly by Hoop, but even more heartbreaking is the fact that we are having to twist our ears towards the stage to hear as shouts from the back drown her out. A plugged in version of Money finally attains a degree of authority over the crowd, Hoop leaving electric guitar duties to her band and laying down her own instrument in favour of a vintage telephone handset. She swings and sways to the immensely catchy tango for the first half, but sings the second verse into the phone, walking circles on the stage and twisting her hair as if carrying a conversation with someone unseen. Talking money down the phone and making it spectacle: Noel Edmunds could learn a thing or two.

Hoop rounds the evening off with the murder ballad Tulip and another older track, Love and Love Again. The finale is a pure piece of musical theatre, almost Disney like in execution. Hoop gesticulates with all the grandour of Piaf to the finger-plucked melody, and throws in the towel after eight songs. I don’t blame her, but it is a shame; in another room it would have brought the house down, whereas here it just underlined what a wasted opportunity tonight has become. Miss Hoop, on behalf of the city of Glasgow, I apologise whole-heartedly.