Jesca Hoop @ Brighton Patterns, 01.04.17

The California via Manchester singer songwriter turns in a superb performance on the South Coast

Apr 1st, 2017 at Brighton Patterns / By Norman Miller
Jesca Hoop @ Brighton Patterns, 01.04.17 Having last seen Jesca Hoop perform a solo acoustic set in one of the smallest spaces at Brighton Komedia, it's good to see her in different mode playing to maybe five times as many folk in the jam-packed low ceiling basement at Patterns, wielding electric axe out front of a tight keys/drums/guitar backing band.

But a sense of intimacy remains from the moment Hoop begins picking out the sparse bass intro to the title track from this year's excellent new album Memories Are Now. It's followed by a jaunty take on Animal Kingdom Chaotic that sees Hoop rail against the digitisation of our lives. 'Are we all ones and zeros?' she asks in her pure emotive voice, before exhorting us to 'take back control'.

Supreme control of the musical sort shines through the set. The band are razor sharp, with every song – most from the new album - delivered with clear panache. The gorgeous Pegasi has clearly become an instant crowd favourite, though for me the album highlight here is the darkly beautiful The Coming with its poetic musings from when 'Jesus turned in his crown of thorns today'.

But there are wonderful dips into the back catalogue too, particularly a powerfully uptempo rendition of Peacemaker from 2012's The House That Jack Built, the delicately beautiful Enemy from her 2007 debut Kismet, and a brilliant delivery of The Kingdom from 2014's Undress album. The latter also provides an unaccompanied voice delivery of Deeper Devastation plus, as part of the encore, a rapturously received City Bird.

Hoop has matured into an artist of enormous sophistication while maintaining a sense of intimate and beautiful fragility. Her early mentor Tom Waits was right when he memorably said of her: “She is an old soul, like a black pearl, a good witch, or a red moon. Her music is like going swimming in a lake at night”.