Live Music + Gig Reviews

Amanda Mair @ Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London

13 June 2012

Preposterously youthful Amanda Mair’s Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen set was a masterclass in keeping things short and sweet. Barely thirty minutes long, what the show lacked in terms of duration and scale, Mair more than made up for in terms of sheer adorability and prodigious talent. Taking to the stage, and quietly sitting herself down before a piano, it became evident that tonight’s performance would be singular in its focus – Amanda herself, alone, without any kind of backing band or light-show. A remarkably brave choice perhaps for someone who come last August hadn’t played a single gig in their life; but maybe that’s how she functions – throwing herself in at the deep end, and trusting in her skills as both pianist and vocalist to keep her afloat.

If anything, Mair’s palpable shyness only added to the air of incredible intimacy here – those delicate piano lines and flawless vocals so achingly fragile it was if the crowd – filling perhaps only half of the small venue – were in the presence of a snowflake, to be kept safe from harm at all costs. They shuffled forwards, in rapt awe of Mair and the transformation she underwent as she began to play, from shy teenager to a musical being utterly absorbed by their craft.

Playing only half of her remarkably consistent debut album, favourites such as Doubt and Sense were greeted with marked adoration and applause, as was Mair’s announcement that it was her eighteenth birthday tomorrow – if she’d waited around until midnight she could have even bought her first drink. Perhaps it was thoughts of the future that played on her mind – tender ballad Skinnarviksberget recalls memories of a hill in her native Stockholm, a place where lovers go, she tells us. “Won’t you give me a minute of your precious time…” asks the song’s soul-searching refrain – tonight, each and every one of the audience would have given her eternity.

With the last song played, Mair offered her thanks, bowed, stepped down from the stage, walked straight through the midst of the crowd and out through the main entrance. And that was it, like a shade, shimmering off into the night – seen only for a moment, but treasured for a life-time. And there’s no doubt Mair will be. Indeed, the only frustration tonight was that she didn’t play for longer, leaving the audience on a precipice of anticipation, yearning with all their hearts for more. It’s easy to imagine how much better the gig would have been with a full band, encore and all the other traditional accoutrements of the live setting – but as it was, it achieved a kind of perfectness in its own special way; one that lingered long after the last few chords had played themselves out.

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Amanda Mair @ Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London
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