Lisa Hannigan live in Bi Nuu, Berlin, April 2012. Review by Emily Jackett
Ukelele wielding Lisa Hannigan is one of the happier surprises I’ve stumbled across in Berlin’s early Summer streets. There’s always this problem with ridiculously cute girls. All big eyes, big smiles, big hair – I know I’ll forgive them just about anything and I’m pretty sure the rest of the world feels the same way. This girl, however, there is nothing to forgive.
Joined on stage by an absolute troupe of handsome lads, bridling folk-pop to raise the spirits of an enthusiastic crowd and of great artists who have come before them.
Hannigan’s song writing is steeped in the folk traditions of her Irish homeland, big songs swell and dissipate with intense ache and emotion, edged with an indispensable sense of whimsy.
It’s so refreshing when the musicians on stage are visibly having fun, it riles the audience in to returning all the positivity and soon the room is teeming with it.
Hannigan has one of the most impressive voices I have heard in a long time, I wish I could catch it in a little box and take it out when days are grey and lonely. It’s special. Husky restraint with a wild range, unexpected Jazz twists and turns and a timbre I can’t not compare to Melanie Safka’s.
The songs are undeniably poppy but they build and break with all the tension of a storm.
A menagerie of instruments scattered the stage, ukelele, banjo, mandolin, keys, bass, guitars, a good amount of kick drum and rim shots, trumpets, melodica, and a deliciously wheezy harmonium, possibly the most underrated instrument of the century. I dread to imagine the agonies of travelling with such suitcases. An instrumental smorgasbord, but each with it’s rightful place, tight and delicate with Hannigan’s voice never drowned.
The band pushed us through elation to melancholy and back to danceable bliss in a well structured set, with no lack of vocal harmonies. O Sleep, a duet, oh my! Such sweet harmonies.
Since the show I haven’t really ceased listening to the poppy, happier Knots and What’ll I do, the crowd caterwauled to both and the happy surprise on the singing smiles of the musicians was wonderful. The stand out live track for me was Little Bird. As if I didn’t already want to invite the whole ensemble over for pots of tea, they encored with a rousing tribute to the late Levon Helm, Hero of my heart. Though my feelings regarding Lisa Hannigan are blatantly stitched all over my sleeve for all to see, even if you don’t want to; go straight past the ridiculously cute youtube videos and get the albums. See the shows. Then buy a ukelele, it’ll make you happy.
Review by Emily Jackett