Live Review: Hannah Peel @ Norwich Arts Centre

Electronic indie-folk singer-songwriter, and member of The Magnetic North, Hannah Peel graced the Norwich Arts Centre this March for an enigmatic, thundering and truly touching performance. Peel, almost seven months on from her latest LP ‘Awake But Always Dreaming’, came on to the stage set for a performance that would resonate with the space and with the audience who were spread throughout the venue, giving rise to an almost ritualistic atmosphere.

She started her set with what is arguably her most commercial single, ‘All that Matters’. This song, bearing striking instrumental and harmonic resemblance to Florence and the Machine, set the tone for the set as the chords and wavering lilt of Peel’s violin washed over the room. The song set a delicate and ornate balance between the singer’s uplifting vocals and the electronic genre that is seldom achieved by other artists.

Talking to an audience hardly separated from them, Peel and her drummer chatted about the touching nature of her latest work and genuinely seemed humbled to be touring her ‘new’ album. It was refreshing to hear an artist talk so frankly, with so little bravado or pressure.

Each song of the set shone in its own way but a highlight could be found in her haunting rendition of Paul Buchanan’s ‘Cars In The Garden’, played on a music box which exemplified the delicate themes of the song. As the paper fed through the box Peel’s voice soared right up until the paper reel fell onto the floor – an abrupt end of a touching musical story.

For anyone that has not seen Peel before then another highlight of her set can be found in her song ‘Desolation Row’. This song, seeming to transcend the building she was in, pleasantly reminded me of the work of Sufjan Stevens and made for a happy but resolute piece.

Peel finished up on a music box cover of ‘Tainted Love’ in her encore. Her set left the audience slowly wandering out of the venue with a memory fresh in their minds of a fantastically powerful, emotional and beautiful show.


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