fbpx
Jolie Holland

JOLIE HOLLAND LIVE IN MANCHESTER – WHAT HAPPENED?

Well now, this has been a long awaited (7 years, in fact) return. Jolie Holland doesn’t travel to the UK very often, and so tonight there is excitement in the Ancoats air. 

The venue, a beautiful little church nestled right next to Anita Street (the picturesque street boasting some of the UK’s first social housing) is a fine setting for an intimate gig, with great acoustics – no doubt why the Hallé orchestra practice here. 

Upon entering the hall, it’s lovely to see Holland manning the merchandise stall herself, chatting to attendees as they browse the selection of vinyl, T-shirts, hand-written lyrics sheets and other rarities. Some may say this is a shrewd move, and to that I say hallelujah.

Support comes from Mark McKowski, who also plays guitar during Holland’s set. McKowski’s set is beautiful – full of quiet, gentle folk tunes – his cover of ‘From the Morning’ by Nick Drake fits in perfectly. 

Soon enough Jolie Holland graces the stage and casts her spell over the audience. Opening with the title track of her latest album ‘Haunted Mountain’ we are utterly mesmerised by that voice. Masterfully, she weaves images of otherworldly landscapes with lyrics such as “I drank the water of this haunted mountain, saw a younger reflection in the falls…the river rose all around me, I was swept up by an anemone, drifted for a mile and nearly drowned”. Holland’s voice is so effortlessly cool, raspy yet smooth, soulful and lazy… she could sell living on a haunted mountain to the biggest of scaredy-cats.

Another stand-out track from the new album is ‘Orange Blossoms’ and it’s an absolute treat to hear played live. Sung from the perspective of wildlife who feast on the blossoms, holding a mirror up to the destructive nature of humans. A song that begs the question – do humans have the best lives? Or do bees and hummingbirds? I for one want to come back as something that drinks the nectar from orange blossoms. 

‘Lost Highway’ is less jazz/bluesy, it has a more country feel – still very laid-back, but sadly tonight missing that lazy fiddle, usually played by Holland. Still an absolute gem, nonetheless.

Tonight’s gig is not just a showcase for the latest album, though. It’s wonderful to hear tracks from Holland’s seminal 2004 album, ‘Escondida’. Hearing ‘Damn Shame’ and ‘Old Fashioned Morphine’ really transports the audience to Louisiana –  That New Orleans, bluesy,  jazzy feel really comes through in both the music and lyrics – “It was good enough for Billy Burroughs, it’s good enough for me..” I concur, Jolie!

To summarise – Jolie taps into that morphine-sipping, nature-loving, haunted mountain-dwelling drifter in all of us, in the most beautiful way possible. 

Jolie Jolie, we know you’ve got very important drifting to do – but please don’t leave it so long till we see you again. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON JOLIE HOLLAND HEAD HERE

FOR MORE ON THE LATEST RGM NEWS AND LIVE GIG REVIEWS HEAD HERE

WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY SHARI DENSON