I’m sure Andy Cabic, aka Vetiver, won’t mind me saying that when I had a quick transatlantic chat with him last week (as you do), he seemed distinctly nervous about performing this string of UK dates completely solo, particularly as the Up On High album hasn’t been out that long.

Vetiver_02_Alissa Anderson-smlA warm and mature album, quite possibly the best of the seven he’s delivered since 2004, Cabic wrote the songs on acoustic guitar and recorded it in the high desert of California with sparse acoustic accompaniment before taking it to the studio to add its seductive layers of sound to his conversational lyrics and singing. He was aiming, he says, in part to recreate the jangle-pop music of his 80s youth, evoking R.E.M. and their like, which would obviously be out of the question in a solo live context.

Vetiver_04_Alissa AndersonBut he needn’t have worried about returning the songs to their roots, especially when it quickly became abundantly evident that for this intimate, ever-so-slightly adoring audience, he could do little wrong (even when he did actually go wrong, thanks to a recalcitrant tuning device). Bare-bones versions of songs from Up On High, such as the title track A Door Shuts Quick and, especially, Swaying were received attentively and applauded vigorously, while the older material usually benefited from the open-hearted approach too.

Despite his apparent (and attractive) diffidence, Cabic obviously knows a thing or two about keeping an audience hooked and was sufficiently taken with how well it all seemed to go without a band that he mused about further exploring the freedom it offered him on stage.

Presumably coincidentally, a little earlier in the evening Cabic’s Loose labelmates Treetop Flyers had also stripped back, in their case to a trio, for an otherwise typically crisp and convincing set of UK Americana.

By Kevin Bourke

Photos by Alissa Anderson