Review: Alela Diane @ Shepherds Bush Empire, Sept 17th.

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Review: Alela Diane @ Shepherds Bush Empire, Sept 17th.

Music Mule was at Shepherds Bush Empire last night for a great bill topped by Portland’s wonderful Alela Diane, playing her 97th show since February in support of her To Be Still album. Support came from the UK’s rising folk stars The Leisure Society and another Portland, Oregon artist Laura Gibson, an exciting new talent to watch out for.

Laura Gibson kicked off proceedings in impressive fashion performing songs chiefly from her upcoming album ‘Beasts of Season’ due out in the UK/Europe on Souterrain Transmissions sometime in November. A fairly similar style to Alela but less country and more introspective folk alla Tiny Vipers if you’re familar with her from these pages of late. Laura hangs on every word and really makes you feel standout songs like ‘Come By Storm’ and ‘Where Have All Your Good Words Gone’. She plays Cafe Otto in East London on October 1st. Go check her out.

The Leisure Society put in a solid performance too on the biggest stage we’ve seen them play. The six-piece looked at ease and not just due to their number. Songs like the Ivor Novello nominated ‘Last Of The Melting Snow’, ‘Love’s Enormous Wings’ and comparatively rocking set closer ‘A Matter Of Time’ are all top tunes worthy of the big time. No place for their great Gary Numan cover ‘Cars’ though unfortunately, although perhaps considering the more haunting folk style of the other two artists this wouldn’t have been the right show to crack it out anyhow.

Alela’s voice is as magical live as on record. Tonight ably backed up by a full band including her father Tom, friend Alina with sweet backing vocals and more hair than cousin It from a rhythm section comprised of drummer Ben and the talkative, bandy legged, Nintendo DS playing (in his spare time, not on stage!) cowboy Tom on bass.

Alela leads us through a selection of favourites from her two albums and some “traditional songs”, a couple of which are truly magically performed but unfortunately their names escape this writer. Highlights predictably but welcomely come in the form of “Tired Feet”, “White As Diamonds” and the sublime “Rifle” but less familiar songs like “The Ocean”, “Every Path” and album title track “To Be Still” also stake their claims for pick of the evening. A noteworthy mention too for “Rake” performed as a duet by Alela and Alina after a stalled start from the latter (only playing guitar standing up for the second time this evening we’re informed!), taken from a forthcoming EP from the two ladies.

Having apparently played to a considerably less than full Birmingham Town Hall the night previously Alela and co seemed to be relishing the adoring if a little quiet London crowd. She’s welcome back any time.

Take a listen to a couple of our budget live recordings below to experience some second hand bliss.

mp3: Alela Diane – Traditional Song (Live at Shepherds Bush Empire 17_09_2009)

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mp3: Alela Diane – White As Diamonds (Live at Shepherds Bush Empire 17_09_2009)

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mp3: Alela Diane – To Be Still (Live at Shepherds Bush Empire 17_09_2009)

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