Brooke Fraser: Live At The Sugar Club Review

Brooke Fraser It’s a nice Spring evening (April 9th), I stroll casually from Stephen’s Green, where I’d been enjoying the fresh air, to The Sugar Club, two minutes walk away. It’s just after seven thirty and to my surprise, there’s a queue winding its way past the venue and up Leeson St.

Talking to others in the queue becomes quite an eye opener as to how popular Brooke Fraser actually is. Two Canadian girls tell me they have flown from Toronto and yes, they have seen Ms Fraser before. Wow! This should be good so.

Warming up the stage for Fraser is Liz Lawrence, who along with Harry on cajon, really get the crowd going. We all have preconceived notions about singer songwriters and about female ones. They’re all going to sound like Mid American whingers. Not the case with Lawrence she combines genres to create her own sound and has an energy which forces her to dance with her guitar while she sings.

She performs with gusto and this easily spills into the audience especially during ‘One Day’. Lawrence received an amazing response for her set, one I haven’t heard for an opening act.  EVER.  Lawrence leaves the stage and seems a little shy and maybe slightly overwhelmed by the response. Her single ‘Remember The Times’ will be out shortly, keep and ear out for it.

The Sugar Club has the crowd well packed in as the Brooke Fraser trio come to the stage to a rapturous response. It’s Fraser’s first sold out show of her European dates and she admits it must mean a lot as she’s wearing lipstick.

Brooke FraserShe’s different to a lot of artists, her inbetween song banter is as entertaining as her music.  Tracks from her current album ‘Flags’ make up the majority of tonight’s set but Fraser dips into her back catalogue for ‘Albertine’  and ‘Arithmetic’ and humourously mentions she hates her trousers on her first album cover.

Playing as a trio, Brooke and her two guys have managed to create a sound which does ‘Flags’ more than a justice. The album itself is organic in its musical make up and sonic soundscape. Live, sometimes a floor tom sound echos a bass line, the percussion gels everything together. Even though, a full kit is used, it never becomes overbearing.  I also had a little giggle at the drummer’s rock guitar facial expressions.

Brooke completely shows her personality on stage. Telling stories, sometimes quite disgusting about scabs and tattoo skin balaclavas. She also pays tribute to Glen Hansard, saying if she had a pet lion she would call him Glen Hansard. She also introduces us to her guitars by name and tells us her keyboard doesn’t have one, ‘cos it’s a rental’, not that she doesn’t like it.

Brooke FraserBig songs on the night are ‘Betty’, whose reference to Canada gets a ‘Whoop’ from our Torontonian friends, ‘Coachella’, ‘Something In The Water’. Even in their stripped down versions, the songs stand tall and the familarity with the audience has them clapping along. Interestingly, though during quieter songs on the night, you could hear people breathe, the audience was that silent.

Surprise of the night was the amazingly beautiful version of Coldplay’s Violet Hill.  I’m not a huge Coldplay fan but this piano led version was out of this world.

Brilliant night, good music, played well, delightful atmosphere, some weird and wonderful stories.  Two songs into her set, Fraser tells us whe’ll be back in Dublin in September.  This time I’m first in line.