By Karina Espinosa
February 22, 2019
Sharon Van Etten has a knack for making the most devastating tales of love sound gorgeous and sweet. And although her music explores the darker side of relationships, Van Etten herself is a tender and generous performer. During her sold-out show in Vancouver, the songstress exuded warm, loving vibes and received even more love in return.
Atmospheric synths overpowered the Imperial during the opening number, “Jupiter 4.” Hunched over the microphone with shaggy hair framing her face, Van Etten gestured toward the audience with angular limbs. Her onstage demeanour was reminiscent of Nick Cave, especially as she spit into the microphone, raw and intense during “Comeback Kid.” The similarities between Van Etten and the post-punk songwriter became even more obvious when Van Etten thanked her band mates and joked, “This is the only band willing to go to a Goth club at two AM with me.”
Accompanied by a four-piece, Van Etten chose a set list that largely favoured her latest record, Remind Me Tomorrow. It’s a shoegaze-heavy album that often left Van Etten without an instrument onstage; this allowed her to sing songs like “Seventeen” with greater feeling. The few times she picked up her guitar were during performances of songs from earlier records, which seemed to please nostalgic fans the most. Numbers like “One Day,” “Tarifa,” and the poignant “Every Time the Sun Comes Up” all received overwhelming cheers from the audience. One concertgoer was even prompted to yell, “Thank you!” in gratitude.
The rest of the night would follow the same pattern: before and after each heartfelt performance, fans would shout words of encouragement and appreciation to the front woman. Despite admitting to having a bad day, the positive energy in the Imperial seemed to put Van Etten in higher spirits. “We want to send you off with a message of love. It means a lot that you’re hear tonight,” she said, ending the night quietly. Love may be ambiguous, but one thing is clear: the affection for Van Etten and her music won’t diminish anytime soon.