A little over a year ago St James hosted one of the highlight shows from a visiting artist to Guernsey in sometime when indie folk musician Jesca Hoop took to their stage, so, when a return visit was announced as she tours her latest album, Order Of Romance, it was one I couldn’t miss.
To open the show though was another visitor to the island who made quite an impression with his last visit back in November, Jersey’s Alex & Her – aka, somewhat hidden gem of the Channel Islands’ music scene, Nic Dinnie.
While his songs have something of a dark intensity his performance tonight brought something of a light touch to that which gave the whole set a welcoming quality which drew in the audience in St James which had been laid out in a more intimate version of its seated ‘cabaret’ arrangement.
As the set went on it grew into a kind of love story charting a lifetime through a series of beautifully delivered songs that do something different to most ‘one man and a guitar’ performers and made for an interesting, masculine, counterpoint to what was to come later in the evening.
Emerging from the curtains at the back of the stage like she’d just been beamed in from somewhere quite other (and I certainly mean further than her California via Manchester origins), Jesca Hoop drew the audience in from the off as she led us on a very personal musical journey for almost an hour and a half.
Last time she appeared here Hoop was joined by a couple of other musicians but for this show it was just her and a guitar providing the sounds and she did so in a way that (and I know this is an overused term but it truly applies here) ethereal and transporting.
After handling and overcoming a ‘frog’ in throat early in the set, Hoop’s voice was magnificent, creating some sounds and hitting some notes that felt almost unreal while she made her hollow body electric guitar fill the room and sound like far more than most manage with her delicate and sparse playing.