ANE BRUN at the Troubadour

Brian Lee shares his experience at  the May 15th intimate performance: “An engaging affair centered around Brun’s vocal…”

[By Brian Lee]

I first heard Ane Brun about 4 years ago performing at Hotel Café (Los Angeles, CA). The first time I heard her voice, I thought that 4 octave ranges feels very familiar yet far away. The quivery/warm huskiness in her voice reminds me of Joni Mitchell but she also has a strong timbre in her higher register (similar to Kate Bush’s) that belts out a flexible range: lively, reverberate and has the ability to sound operatic, contemporary or even able to mimic sweet melodies.
Ane Brun’s show at the Troubadour (05/15/2012) was quite a low key affair centered around Brun’s vocal. Yes, she showed up with a band that included two pianos, a cello, a drum and a guitar- but she didn’t need a full piece band. The night’s highlight was actually Brun’s solo appearance for the song “Neighbourhood #1” (a cover of Arcade Fire)…the acoustic guitar strumming and the angelic voice howling this widely beloved song proceeded to amuse and enthrall an audience of wide-eyed, awe-struck twenty-somethings, who were so quiet you could hear a pin drop, and I was barely holding back my delighted tears.

Overall the night felt engaging, cozy and warm – Too warm that I was literally sweating bullets either from the fuggy packed venue or just the case of Guinness galore. Without a care in the world, Ane Brun dressed up in this green pastel long-sleeved blouse and above the waist plain-front pants – the fashion sense is more Amish than businesslike elegance.

She opened up the set with “These Days”, a vulnerable ballad on how loneliness creeps into “her bones, joints, and veins” over a church-like keyboard and minimum percussion. She followed up the melancholic tune with a jazz-tinged “One”, a song so upbeat with its tango-like rhythm that she had to shimmy and dance along. Then came “Worship”, her most well-known song (among U.S. audience). I secretly wished Jose Gonzalez (Junip, Zero 7) would appear from backstage and whisper “Never Worship For Your Life” in his gentle irrefutable soft voice. Nevertheless, Ane and the gang did a fantastic job! The light guitar melody, the slow marching drum-beat, and spine-chilling strings over Ane’s unbearably sad yet beautiful voice felt like those sad instrumental orchestra you want to play on repeat.
Throughout her set, Ane Brun was focusing on tunes from her latest LP “It All Starts With One”, which won her the Spellemann award (the Norwegian Grammys) for best female artist. She also played a crowd favorite “Balloon Ranger” from her 2005 LP “Duets”. The entire front row was murmuring “You Know What I Need” while Ane profusely encouraged “I know you can sing better than that” in a playful tune.

Finally, Ane ended the intimate experience with the gorgeous “Undertow”, an infectious love song with crashing-waves aura that takes you on a romantic yet subdued emotional whirlwind without you realizing it. And as soon as you heard the last phrase, “Take me out to sea. Away from you and me. Let me float. Lead me out to sea. Let me go”, the entire crowd basked in the glow of an incredible live show that was long overdue.

Critics Notebook: The last time I saw her at Hotel Café (4 years ago), I was sharing a shot of Bushmills with this 50+ Irish dude. Don’t ask me how it happened. However, last Tuesday, the crowd size tripled and got a lot younger…like a LOT (20ish).
Random Notebook Dump: Can’t understand these 2 Kardashian wannabes next to me. They reeked Chanel no. 5 within 6 miles radius and they were checking their Facebook timeline throughout the entire show. I thought Bruno Mars was playing at Nokia Theatre?