Sparklehorse / Sol Seppy  - RNCM, Bruntwood Theatre, Manchester 20.10.2006

A church on a Sunday vibe seeps out from the atmospheric accompaniment and slightly choral vocals, proffered by the distinguished Sol Seppy. A dual keyboard approach along with the shades of Sonic Youth, fuzzed sound helps Sol give a personal performance with her angel pushed vocals uncovering the world as she sees it. The slow burning psychedelic fuse of ‘Wonderland’ sees the seated crowd slowly moving as much as they can in appreciation of the warmth and adventure on display. The classically trained pianist keeps her focus throughout, providing some keyboard coating to her crystal vocal range. The rustic backdrop inclusive of some antique appearing sculpture casts sets a mysterious scene. This is something that is promoted through the dark with a positive spark of ‘Enter 1’, from the well-received ’Bells of 1 2’ album. The ambience is perfect tonight for the mystery espousing approach of Sol Seppy, who cuts a charming figure onstage and gives a genuine performance.

Having just released their first album in five years, Sparkelhorse are intriguing descendents upon this classical setting. Singer/guitarist Mark Linkous, manipulates his vocals to take on a fuzzy/light gait for the positive ‘Gold Day’, from 2001’s ‘It’s A Wonderful life’ album. He then proceeds to express bemusement at the setting by claiming that he can’t connect with the crowd when everyone is sat down. Well, Mark, life’s a shit sandwich, sometimes you’ve just got to take a bite and get on with it. However, rather than putting on his napkin, he seemed to sulk through the normally dazzling obscurity of ‘Bad Apple’. Sure they manage to replicate their album sound, a melting fusion of The Pixies, Cracker, and David Bowie, with the motionless but focused Natasha Atlas, lending a bit of Sonic Youth to matters, but the exuberance of old has dissipated.

What is most disappointing is that given the above mentioned objections of Lingus to the setting, not once does he beckon the crowd to their feet for a dance-off. Even as the pace and robustness starts to increase. The full throttle fuzz of ‘Hammering The Cramps’ is the perfect opportunity to do this, though it is still widely appreciated all the same. In new song, ‘Don’t Take My Sunshine Away’ some feedback laden vocal reflection shows that quality is still prevalent in the material of Linkous and co. A few people choose to exit before the encore and a complete set of just over 70 minutes leaves a tinge of disappointment. However, you get the impression that Sparklehorse can recapture their magic of old, in the right setting.

David Adair

Click here to leave your Sparklehorse reviews / comments on the Message Board
(NB: The message board opens in a new window so please disable your pop-up blocker to view)