She stops, stoops nervously amid half-lit applause. "I think I played everything," she says. Havoc with our hearts, mainly...

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London WC1 Drill Hall


London WC1 Drill Hall

You never see her face, but then, you don’t need to. Chan Marshall might have drawn a veil of hair over tonight’s proceedings, but this charisma won’t be muffled by a fringe.

Despite the reputation that precedes her at funereal pace – the Southern belle ringing loud, clear and cracked, ex-kindred spirit of Bill Callahan, once plagued by wholly non-metaphorical demons – she makes a quiet entry. The first thing she asks is the lights be dimmed, then she shines a flashlight into the darkest emotional recesses she knows. Running, sure. Hiding, never.

If you’re feeling even marginally melancholy, it’s probably best to avoid this depth of feeling. Any real trauma throbbing behind your eyes, you’re doomed. Lurking in the gloom of the piano, or jigging quaintly behind her guitar in cowboy boots, Marshall segues fleetly between songs, the intensity building like an obsession. She’s as far removed from hideous clichis of the female singer-songwriter as it’s possible to be without actually being Smog or Will Oldham.

An astonishing take on ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’, the chorus sliced away to reveal the bone beneath; a clearly pointed ‘The Devil’s Daughter’; the urban infatuation of ‘I Found A Reason’ made to yearn for love like a pioneer daughter; a version of Smog‘s ‘Red Apple Falls’ that pulls apart nerves like a kid with a butterfly: interpretation seems too weak a word for such beautiful emotional terrorism.

She stops, stoops nervously amid half-lit applause. “I think I played everything,” she says. Havoc with our hearts, mainly.