Pop Emmylou Harris Jazz Cafe, London
Monday 30 September 1996
At the first of three nights at the Jazz Cafe, Harris was an impossibly charismatic figure. Though she's cropped her startling silver-birch mane, she still looks closer to 19 than 50. It's a ghostly beauty that perfectly fits the apocalyptic air of her new work. All-engulfing maverick Lanois wasn't with her, perhaps a good thing, but his supple bandmates, jazz- based drummer Brian Blades and R&B bassist Daryl Johnson brought a smoky Delta heat and echoing rumble to shadow Harris's unearthly vocal.
A set of seismic proportions went on long into the night, taking in tributes like a laid-back "Love Hurts", her own "Pancho and Lefty" and Marvin Gaye's "Abraham, Martin and John", but Wrecking Ball dominated proceedings. The Neil Young title track, a haunted waltz for sombre, stately skeletons; Steve Earle's desperate "Goodbye", a grainy hymn to lost love on which her growling voice broke against steel guitar and tacit drum rolls; and a cool, shivering take on Hendrix's "Waterfall (May This Be Love)".
But perhaps the evening's stand-out was "Deeper Well". Co-written by Lanois andDave Oiney, the song welds tribal drums, keening slide guitar and cymbals of dry lightning to frame a tale of obsession and addiction, asearch for sustenance in a parched landscape. By turns howling or cynically bitter, Harris's voice was the cry of a spectre after an American armageddon. Working best at a lower register, delivering a disturbing, world-weary clarity and insight, neo-country's rhinestone-free queen took her audience into a smoky twilight zone, proving how visionary a certain sadness can be.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens trailer: The most extreme fan reactions on Twitter
Doctor Who film will definitely happen, leaked Sony emails reveal
The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has leaked – watch
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust