Ane Brun – Vicar Street – Live Review by Andrew Darley
There was an upbeat mood in Dublin’s Vicar Street as Ane Brun marked the final night of her Directions tour. Backed by a six-piece band they brought her new record, When I’m Free, to life. Following the album’s aesthetic, the setlist was driven by drumbeats, deep rhythms and string arrangements. Opening with the intense sound of ‘Hanging’, she then jumped straight into the punchy ‘Directions’. The vision of When I’m Free expands on her guitar and piano approach with songs that are layered with instruments and explore new textures. Songs like the fiery ‘Shape of A Heart’ were designed to be played live, while older songs are transformed by the group. The fluttering rolls of ‘These Days’ was thrilling played by the two drummers, while ‘One’ was titillating with the full band. A few songs in she invites the night’s superb opening performer Mariam The Believer to join them on stage. Together they sang a hypnotic version of ‘Workship’ as their voices stretched across the venue. There was a pure musicianship and synchronicity between the band on stage as they all give the songs exactly what they needed.
Brun was as engaged with her bandmates, smiling as she turned to them, as she was with her audience. She made a sincere speech on the importance of compassion and kindness to each other, in our often cruel and chaotic times. Introducing ‘You Lit My Fire’ she commends the lineage of women who committed their lives in achieving equal rights for women – underlining that it was not too long ago people would scoff at the idea of women’s right to vote. Perhaps the most touching moment was ‘All We Want Is Love’. Its lyrics “We give up our names for it, We arrange parades fighting for it” echoed in the Ireland’s monumental victory in the Marriage Referendum this year.
The songs of the show juxtaposed and complimented each other, highlighting the breath of her songwriting so far. Closing with ‘Undertow’, she strips everything back to her voice and piano and its touching sentiment hangs in the air. Brun is a charming artist, as she danced across the stage and embodied the feeling of every song. Given she had everyone up dancing at several points, it’s a wonder it was seated! The heartfelt show merited an artist brave enough to push her musical palette and identity as a performer.