Hope Sandoval: Live Last Night

hope sandoval

Live Last Night

By David Malitz

Siren-song chanteuse Hope Sandoval and her quartet the Warm Inventions were cloaked in near-darkness for Wednesday night's show at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, mere silhouettes on stage. With the band members offering no visual stimulation, the audience was instead treated to video collages projected on a screen behind them. Most of those images -- old movies, various bits of nature -- were presented in some sort of slow motion. And it sure was a fitting theme, as Sandoval and her mates played an hour of songs that were the aural equivalent of a most pleasant journey into quicksand.

(Side effects may include drowsiness, after the jump.)

The former singer for '90s dream-pop faves Mazzy Star hasn't strayed much from that band's sound and still has a voice like a vocal sedative. There were plenty of signs around the venue warning that cameras were not allowed. "Side effects may include drowsiness" may as well have been on there, too. More than a few girlfriends were spotted leaning on boyfriends' shoulders in the synagogue's padded pews as Sandoval cooed lines such as, "And how, love, does the wind blow? / While we sleep away our days?" In most instances, a sleepy, dazed audience would be a bad sign. With Sandoval, it just means she's doing her job well.

And she did that on Wednesday, if not in an especially engaging manner. But that's par for the course -- a mumbled "thank you" were her only words uttered and she often sang facing sideways, sometimes clinking on a xylophone or blowing into a harmonica. (At least she didn't storm off after three songs and insult the city.) The songs all moved at the same leisurely pace, more about textures and her seductive vocals. There were a few moments when a distorted lead guitar broke through the gauze. But even that was far more of an in utero nudge than a Georges St. Pierre kick.

When the band walked off stage, the crowd remained seated for a few minutes. Many were probably hoping for an encore; some were likely just regaining the ability to move.

By David Malitz |  October 15, 2009; 7:13 PM ET Live Last Night
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I thought the show was fantastic, in a 1960's Fillmore,,mystical, tripped-out way. Honestly it felt more like a shared experience for me than a concert. The band (Dirt Blue Gene) provided a strong accompaniement, relaxed counterpoint and an amazing opening set. Hope Sandoval's voice was amazing, and the songs (from her last two albums) were much better live. The live setting brought an energy and intensity to what can be soporific music. Witnessing Hope live is experiencing a shy, introverted and gifted person present their work. When what comes out is as wonderful as last night's show, I felt lucky to have been there and soaked up every floating minute. After the concert, someone near me commented that Hope was the worst performer he had ever seen. Probably true enough given our current collective expectations of a 'Performer', but there was no pretense of performing. A PhD might call it 'subverting the pervasive popular performance paradigm'...to trippily-spliced 16mm film. Oh yes, it was that. Not sure why there was no encore, but there you go. That is the world of Hope, and it was a pleasure to share it at the 'Gogue!. What an experience.

Posted by: mcletus | October 15, 2009 8:28 PM

I completely agree with mcletus. It was a fantastic show, the songs being given a chance to breath in the live setting. Anyone expecting a "show" in the usual sense of the word had not listened to the records or seen Hope/Mazzy Star before.
The venue was perfect and the effect of the music was to be lulled into a slow narcotic haze (a good thing in this case). And was that a Bert Jansch cover she began the set with?
Loved the opening set by Dirt Blue Gene also - great mood music.
I just hope it isn't another 7 years before Hope comes back to town.

Posted by: darren5 | October 16, 2009 1:03 PM

A 2-song encore was planned but the 6th & I staff turned on the house lights by accident. Once everyone stood up and started to file out it was too late.

Posted by: SatchelPooch | October 16, 2009 1:18 PM

Yes that was Courting Blues by Bert Jansch that led off the show.

A new Mazzy Star record is close to completion so she may be back in DC with Mazzy soon.

Posted by: SatchelPooch | October 16, 2009 1:37 PM

ah, courting blues. Thought I recognised it. Thanks Satchelpooch.

Posted by: darren5 | October 16, 2009 2:52 PM

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