Live Review: Tara Jane O’Neil

10/06 – The Glad Cafe

Edging further towards the stage as The Glad Cafe’s music venue begins to fill up, there is an air of accepting coolness. Tara Jane O’Neil and the artists supporting her tonight are many things: experimental, multi-talented, personable. But also they’re all pretty damn cool. Yet there’s no hint that those unfamiliar with O’Neil’s impressive back-catalogue or her other work in the world of visual arts over the past decade or so are any less welcome. If you’re here, then you’re in on it.

Before Tara Jane takes to the stage, we have the pleasure of Ela Orleans and her ‘movies for ears’. Accomplished and exquisite, Orleans’ electronic music and vocals blend with her film pieces which are projected behind her. Found footage and repeating images kaleidoscope into each other, folding her music into the same experience.

From one dream-like performance to another, O’Neil is up. Wandering the stage with a guitar and as-yet-unidentified whistle-type instrument, she seems lost in her own tranquil world of music, as if it exists around her, rather than being made anywhere.

There is something certainly very liberating for an audience member being able to see the stage and performer before them and yet not quite tell where the music is coming from. The set runs smoothly, there is little sense of there being individual pieces, with time for applause in-between. Appreciation is shown more through dreamy immersion which eschews interruption.

Finishing her set, O’Neil leans in however. “In America, that’s all I’d play… But here in the UK I don’t think I’m going to get away with that.” One dirty bagpipe joke and a glass of wine later, she launches into her “second set.” Louder and angrier, this is her more intrusive earlier music, vocals taking a more central part, but the music still integral, rather than an accompaniment.

Re-energised after the previous hypnotic pool of sound, the audience are still not quite ready to let her go. “Rainbow connection!” comes a shout from the back. And forward comes BMX Bandits singer/ songwriter Duglas T Stewart to join O’Neil on stage for this seemingly absurd encore, which on reflection makes perfect sense. Who is her music for if not the lovers and dreamers?

[Caitlin MacColl]

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