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Anais Mitchell and Michael Chorney
With a red hot reputation preceding her, Vermont-raised Anais Mitchell arrived in Sheffield armed with all the necessary credentials required to rise to the top of this reviewer's list of essential artists on the current music scene. With a handful of albums under her belt, the most recent two HADESTOWN and YOUNG MAN IN AMERICA providing much of tonight's set list, the singer-songwriter appeared for an intimate and pretty stripped down to the essentials concert, accompanied by long time collaborator Michael Chorney.
Starting with an earlier song Cosmic American, Anais gave a passionate performance, living each of her songs through her highly focused delivery, perfectly utilising her unique and distinctive vocals, accompanied by her trademark jerky movements. Performing on a hot summer's evening before an audience completely aware of the outstanding HADESTOWN folk opera, who eagerly awaited the likes of Wedding Song and If It's True, the singer gave her audience what they had come for pretty much from the start, before moving on to the newer songs.
The new album is possibly her finest work thus far, featuring some of the singer's finest vocal performances, a handful of which were revealed once again tonight, including Shepherd, Wilderland, Ships and He Did together with the title song Young Man in America; songs that mark out Anais Mitchell as an original voice.
'Marry me' one enthusiastic male fan cried out from the audience, to which Anais immediately responded 'too late'. It would be something of a poor denial to not fully agree with this sentiment, for it's hardly a task to fall hook, line and sinker for this artist. With an easy approach to communicating with an audience, Anais makes her unusual vocal style and individualistic song writing skills accessible to all.
With a nod to Bob Dylan, Anais performed the Duluth Bard's most excellent A Hard Rain's a Gonna Fall before returning to the stage for an encore of Why We Build the Wall once again from the HADESTOWN opera. Tonight Anais Mitchell provided one of those rare performances that none of us wanted to end. Superb.