Gig Review by Andrew Lindsay with Photography by John Bentley

“In order to successfully put on a performance you have to take up space in a room and you have to allow it to be a situation where people are listening to you and you have to be comfortable with that and you have to feel like you have something to say”. So said Tamara Lindeman aka The Weather Station in her documentary short ‘Sentiment & Memory’. Despite suffering from a cold and the inevitable angst associated with the first night of a headlining UK tour she, to use her words, “made it” at the Leeds Brudenell.

The Weather Station, Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 25/01/18

Lindeman, a thirty something singer-songwriter from near Toronto, is here to promote her fourth album, The Weather Station. The record was critically well received featuring in many ‘best of 2017 reviews’, notably earning a top five ranking in Uncut magazine. She has a lot to prove especially to this gig-seasoned audience who have just had to part with the princely sum of £8 for a ticket (ludicrously cheap and surely financially ruinous).

The Weather Station, Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 25/01/18

Weather Station’s earlier work has been characterised by quiet acoustic guitars overlaid with lyrical density – think Joni Mitchell, Sharon Van Etten and Aimee Mann. Tonight she steps on stage wielding an electric guitar and accompanied by a drummer, bassist and lead guitar/keyboard player. Blow me down if it is not a rock n’roll band. It is not quite a ‘Judas’ moment but ‘Free’ is quite a departure from the recorded version (notable for its gorgeous closing string arrangement) especially when Lindeman engages in a spot of guitar duelling with the bassist. The excellent lyrics get a bit lost in the loudness but perhaps that’s the price of being as ‘free as I should be’. The notion of ‘free’ is always popping up in Linderman’s lyrics.

The Weather Station, Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 25/01/18

‘Kept It All To Myself’ is fun, buoyant and refreshing. ‘Power’ follows and the band depart leaving Tamara and her acoustic guitar. A shy woman, forever bluffing, she recounts her first visit to the UK back in 2015 when she supported The Mountain Goats. Arriving in London she recalls driving up to Leeds and thinking “I can’t do this alone” – whether she is referring to driving through Leeds (never a happy experience for anyone) or being a solo performer is not exactly clear. She does just one song, 2014’s ‘Don’t Understand’ before being joined by two band members for quiet takes on ‘Came So Easy’ and the finely entitled ‘The Most Dangerous Thing About You’ – Linderman’s long blonde hair and swooping soprano evoking an updated version of Joni Mitchell’s ‘The Last Time I Saw Richard’.

The Weather Station, Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 25/01/18

The drummer rejoins to power along ‘Impossible’ (“about getting used to sad things”). The remainder of the electric set builds to a thrilling climax. ‘Thirty’ is the best performance of the night. The torrent of lyrics blur but this is steamy and surprising. Lindeman even gets down on her knees to play a brief guitar solo. Now this particular move needs some more practice but let us hope she keeps at it. It was really fun.

The Weather Station, Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 25/01/18

For the encores we are treated to ‘Loyalty’; ‘Tapes’ on which the band finally start to stretch out (more of this please) and a final solo acoustic rendition honouring an audience request. It was a satisfying end to a brave, loud but intimate performance from someone who has something to say and from someone you’ll want to hear.

Support was provided by London-based Red River Dialect, also promoting a fourth album: Broken Stay Open Sky. A six piece ensemble they delivered a laidback, hypnotic low-key set enriched by David Morris’ warm vocals and Ed Sanders’ fiddle.

Red River Dialect, Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 25/01/18

Weather Station Setlist: Personal Eclipse; Way It Is/Way It Could Be; Free; You and I (On the Other Side of the World); Kept It All To Myself; Power; Don’t Understand; Came So Easy; The Most Dangerous Thing About You; Impossible; Black Flies; Know It To See It; Thirty; Loyalty; Tapes; All Of It Was Mine.

Possible band (not introduced): Ben Whiteley (bass); Erik Heestermans (drums); Will Kidman (guitar/keyboard/bongos).

The Weather Station, Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 25/01/18

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