For everyone spending the Whitsun-Weekend in Leipzig, it is pure recovery to be in a place with people that aren’t dressed in black and/or smell like an acre of pachouli. Well, at least that counts for those in the city who aren’t attending the WGT – the biggest Gothic Meeting in Europe. Sure, most of them might be very nice persons, but to be honest: the naTo became an insular of normality this evening and the music of DEAR READER a shelter from the dark flood outside.
Not only that the attendants this night were built of a rare mixture between grown-up music-nerds, some very young fans and typical indie-audience, it was a very enthusiastic and pleasant atmosphere from the beginning. Something, that’s not that self-evident in concerts like these. It was a cross-generational, open-minded, friendly vibe that even seemed to be a bit confusing, especially for the opening act TRADED PILOTS. Emma Greenfield and Sam Vance-Law really did a great job to set the mood: simple but beautiful tunes, consisting just of their voices, guitar, violin (which can be also used as a beat-machine, as we learned) and some other neat folk-ingredients. Not only that the two contributed their varying instrumentation to DEAR READER later on, they also fitted the charming character of this night’s star: Cherilyn MacNeil.
Yes, as most of the indie-folk-scene now should be aware of: the head of DEAR READER is an epitome of charm. While telling the stories behind the songs of her new album Rivonia, she kept smiling and mentally hugging everybody in the room – literally under all circumstances. Even in moments that were slightly unappropriate for collective laughter. She can’t help it, it seems. Musically, DEAR READER found a good way to express the direction of their new songs. For Rivonia is a record adressing MacNeils south-african origin, there’s a lot of typical choiry arrangements that were put on stage in a reduced but effective way. In the center, of course: MacNeil and her magnificent voice, singing about the roots of her family in a mixture of old african tales, oral history and actual stories of her ancestors; like the one about her great-great-great-great-grandfather (no idea, if I got the right amount of “great”s here; sorry Cherilyn!) who slept in one bed with Gandhi because he couldn’t get a room for him due to the Apartheid-racism, lingering at that time.
It’s generally a very pleasant experience to attend a DEAR READER-concert, but it’s been even more pleasing this very night because of the audience’s thankful response. Naturally, it was the most thankful when hearing some of the band’s classic beauties like Great White Bear, Dearheart or Bend from their first releaseReplace Why With Funny. But, take the songs from Idealistic Animals or Rivonia and just add them to the classics, you will see: DEAR READER became a band with different, interesting shades of beauty and Her Highness, Cherilyn MacNeil, princess charming, is something like the anti-star of a consensual approach to indie-pop – in the most positive way! And gosh, just listen to her, covering BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’s Dancing in the Dark as she did that night as the final encore. That’s all you need, really.