> Adrianne Lenker - 24th April, Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow (live review) - SNACK: Music, film, arts and culture magazine for Scotland

Adrianne Lenker – 24th April, Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow (live review)

Adrianne Lenker, Big Thief’s lead singer, just weeks after releasing her latest critically acclaimed solo album Bright Future, has set off on a mostly sold-out European tour. After three shows around Ireland, Lenker arrives at Glasgow’s Old Fruitmarket with nothing more than a few guitars, her dear old friend Nick Hakim’s disassembled piano, a chair she picked up in a local antiques shop and lava lamps all arranged around a persian rug. It feels like we could be back in the small, singular room where her latest record was recorded, getting a peak behind the curtain of this prolific songwriter’s intimate creative process.

Lenker’s stage presence is awkward but endearing. She invites us to sit in comfortable silences, sometimes for minutes at a time, as she re-tunes her guitar and composes herself between each song. These spaces were occasionally filled by audience members confessing feelings of adoration or requesting songs. One even elicited a rendition of ‘zombie girl’ as a birthday favour to the heckler in question. ‘I’ll just do this one and then I’ll play it for you’ Adrianne responds, with the patience of a primary school teacher. 

Playing on instinct, Lenker changes her setlists night after night based on how she and the audience are feeling. Tonight’s gig opens with ‘symbol’ from her 2018 solo record abysskiss. From then she continues to freely and generously dip into her own back catalogue (‘forwards beckon rebound’ from 2020’s songs LP is currently a favourite of hers) as well as that of Big Thief’s (‘Simulation Swarm’, ‘The Only Place’ and ‘Older’ make the cut). This resulted in relatively few Bright Future songs featuring, but those that do are recreated sympathetically by Hakim’s muted piano accompaniment and backing vocals (just as they appear in the recorded version).

Lenker’s voice, though carrying an emotional fragility, proves its strength throughout this set, effortlessly reaching high falsettos and carefully placed runs. Her acoustic guitar playing is also allowed to shine as she tackles much of the set entirely solo. During ‘Vampire Empire’, her final song before the encore, Lenker breaks into a whistle solo and invites the audience to partake. We sheepishly oblige and the room begins to sparkle with giddy smiles. 

Despite her shyness and introversion, Lenker has succeeded in moving many of us to tears and charming the entire room into submission. This is a songwriter with real control over her craft, both in the studio and in a live setting. ‘I feel lucky to have come here a few times now. You’re really lovely,’ she says as the show draws to a close. A warm, extended cheer seems to say ‘no Adrianne, we are the lucky ones’. 

Reviewed at Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow on 24th March

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