LIVE REVIEW: Mitski - Aggressively Intimate
With last year’s excellently anxious Puberty 2, Mitski Miyawaki softened the edges of her raw guitar work, matured as a songwriter and opened her sound up, giving it a new cinematic scope.
This widening of her aural borders translates beautifully well to her live show, which expertly straddles the lines between the aggressive and the tender, the intimate and the remote.
The crowd — a healthy mix of drunken students, middle-aged connoisseurs and the fatally hip— are suitably warmed up by local power- poppers Personal Best’s bracing mix of sweet harmonies and Britpop inflected indie sludge. By the end of their brief set the size of the crowd has swelled noticeably.
By the time Mitski and her backing band take the stage the mood is one of anticipatory near-mania and it becomes apparent just how many die-hards are crammed into the narrow space below deck on Bristol’s famous musical boat The Thekla. This reaches fever pitch with the punchy and ever so slightly funk-tinged opening version of Dan The Dancer.
A charismatic and engaging performer, Mitski holds a touching rapport with her audience. The evening feels more like a dialogue between artist and audience than a simple performance. The emotive and warm music is interspersed with disarmingly amiable anecdotes delivered with a wide smile that gives the feeling of speaking with a long unseen friend, a welcome antidote to the po-faced posturing that can accompany many of indie-rock’s more glum performers.
A grand tour of album highlights from throughout her career is kicked off with an ecstatic version of fan favourite Townie delivered in a swift one- two with a raucous version of First Love/Late Spring that has the everyone in the room dancing and leaping joyfully around. This soon drifts into a sparse but note perfect delivery of Puberty 2 torch song Your Best American Girl which highlights the dedication and talent of perhaps the greatest unsung heroes of all too many rock tours - the backing band.
As the frenetic drum machine of Happy fades and the band takes it’s bow,
Mitski is alone on stage and a powerful version of A Burning Hill allows her voice to fully demonstrate the emotional weight and solicitude of her lyrics in a way not immediately apparent on her studio recordings.
Penultimate song Crushed Little Stars is punky, despite the lack of percussion and after a brief encore during which pickups are screamed at and the air is all but torn in half by a wall of distortion, the lights finally flicker on and as everyone files out, ears pleasurably ringing and all with the same beaming smile worn by Mitski all night.
Stream Puberty 2 below and get tickets to see Mitski live here