Give that girl a crab cake, will you?
Lisa Hannigan’s music is well tailored for her hushed voice and sense of whimsy – both of which were on display at the Paradise on Monday night.
Despite her soft singing voice, that voice was never buried under layers of instruments. It was all about restraint. So much so that your humble blogger and I could probably make out the occasional conversation at the bar, if we ever felt so inclined.
But what she lacked in bombast, she made up for with craft. Her performance hit very few false notes, with her hodgepodge of instruments and vocal inflections allowing her personality to show. She joked with the crowd, contemplating her love of crab cakes and making it a running joke throughout the set. (She even hoped Legal Seafood would sponsor her next gig in Boston, just so she can indulge on said crab cakes.) Her smile on “Safe Travels (Don’t Die)” emphasized the song’s dark humor, and she had fun interacting directly with members of the crowd.
Working her way through several new tracks (the reason for her visit, new record Passenger, currently no. 1 in her native Ireland), Hannigan proved she can put on an even more polished set than her debut, with “Knots,” “Paper House,” “A Sail” and “Little Bird” being the standout tracks. And being two short albums into her solo career, the crowd was never left wanting with her also performing the best tracks of her debut, including “I Don’t Know,” “Lillie” and “An Ocean and a Rock.” But as strong as her material has been so far, it does get tricky keeping an audience when shifting between soft and whimsy – but she managed to do so for the most part.
And at the end of the encore, Hannigan performed a cover of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.” After a false end and a few premature claps, her entire band turned things up and frantically jammed away to end the night on a high – a cathartic moment given the evening’s previous restraint.