The NME Mazzy Star/Red House Painters review

Red House Painters (Leeds Duchess Of York)

SO WHAT *have* they got in common, Hope Sandoval and Mark Kozelek? Apart from the doom-child eyes, the shredded psyche and a fondness for letting us in on their sleepless travels through life?

Answer: the quest for reverence. Both strive, unwittingly or not, for a gravity that would bring world leaders out in a crimson blush. Not for them the frivolous pursuit of pop stardom (best quality, remember; transience) that clutters up the minds of our pop aspirants.

Nope, for them success is, a la Cobain, something that to be constructed as yet another of life's endless bad spells.

wisely attempts a hushed anticipation for the arrival of Mazzy Star. At last night's Birmingham show, the first of the tour, Hope fell foul of a heckler and promptly walked off the stage after 45 minutes, leaving the crowd confused and irritated. Accordingly, record company personnel wring their hands and fret over whether the Univeristy can attain the degree of decorum required.

psychedelicos The Rain Parade, seems unable to contain himself. In the places where subtlety would normally wallow, he provides a barrage of crunching bonanzas that seem horribly out of place next to Hope's soft-wristed maraca shaking. Thus, 'Mary Of Silence' and 'Ghost' become exercises in strong-armed Doorsarama that kill any sense of other-worldliness stone dead.

people are hangin on her every sigh rankles. Eventually 'She Hangs Brightly' reduces the crowd noise to a low murmur, but it's only with a wonderful 'Into Dust' that the long-sought-after awestruck vibe develops and Hope's sulky delivery elicits a complete, and stunning, silence. They flop back on for a final 'So Tonight That I Might See' bathed in organ and purple lights, and, unaware of what decorum demands next, the University applauds frantically. As she exits, Hope even offers a glimmer of a smile. Budding hecklers find their hearts in pieces.

For Mark Kozelek things can never be this easy. The latest example of an ancient tradition of singer-songrwiterdom, his gloom-laden laments of smalltown neuroses offer all the desolation of Mazzy Star with none of the mystery. Saturday in Leeds is not a light-hearted experience. An opening solo slope through 'Michael' suggests an evening of raw nerves and class A soul- bearing may be in store but, aside from a genuinely touching acoustic strum through 'Mistress', his songs find themselves surrounded by a swamp of musicians who do nothing but turn them into bar-room dirges.

impression of having lived through a million hells. He even explains that he's been "bruised internally, eternally". The Duchess Of York, staffed for the night by an alarming amount of thirtysomethings, nods its approval and mulls over the private dreams that have ended up falling through life's floorboards. He returns for a guitar-laden 'Uncle Joe' ("I'd give anything a try once!" he wails) and then, thankfully unencumbered by the band,he leaves a final time with a stirring 'New Jersey'.

It's the first night of the tour, and the combined effects of travelling and nerves have conspired to make him physically ill before and after the show. In the light of this, then, perhaps it's better to hold fire on the ins and outs of any long-term career prospects, let alone the man's lifespan potential. Even depressives can have an off-day.

Paul Moody

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