LIVE REVIEW: Lisa Hannigan, St Paul’s Church (Birmingham), 19.11.11

Lisa Hannigan has come a long way since she was written off as the “token folkie” by NME when her debut album “Sea Saw” was nominated for the Mercury  Prize back in 2009. Having more than proved her worth, Hannigan has far from dwelled on her critics, instead spending her time productively building a fanbase, both at home in Ireland and around the world. With her second album “Passengers” having been showered with praise upon its release a few weeks back, Hannigan is heading out across the UK to showcase the new record, starting with this sell out performance in one of Birmingham’s most charming churches.

Apologising for her jet-lagged presence, Hannigan cuts a shy figure as she launches into her ballad heavy set with the tender “Paper House”. While she may be known for her quirky videos, the live Hannigan set is a no nonsense, simple affair that really is all about the music. And Hannigan’s musical dexterity that cannot be questioned. Within her hour and a half long set, Hannigan plays just short of ten instruments with skill and prowess.

Her colourful vocal is perfectly suited to her setting. Reminiscent of both Shelby Starner and Gemma Hayes, Hannigan has an otherworldly presence and at times it is hard to believe that her soulful sound is created in her diminutive body.

With the audience eating out of the palm of her hand, Hannigan makes her way cheerily and passionately through her two albums to date, with occasional shout outs to fans she knows have attended the show. It is a strange contrast of the extrovert and introvert – with Hannigan open as she sings and closed as she speaks. Yet, this bemusing contradiction works, with her audience entranced.

As Hannigan closes her set with her most comical tune to date, “Safe Travels”, she is met with raucous cheers and a standing ovation. Wasting little time to tease, she zooms back on stage, clearly chuffed at the response. She sincerely thanks the audience before closing the night beautifully with “Teeth”, “Home” and “Knots”.

Reviewer: Jeremy Williams
Rating: 4/5

Photography by Jeremy Williams 

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