You’ve all seen that annoying car advert, catchphrase ‘BigSmall’, haven’t you? Well, tonight we got just that. Laura Veirs may have been backed by only two other musicians, but they made a big noise, and, though it was only a small venue, they made it feel like a huge occasion.

This was Laura’s second visit to the UK this year, but, with this date arranged around her performance at the Womad festival, she was able to justify bringing her band, The Tortured Souls, with her this time around. Noticeably inspired by the "humbling" experience of playing the Womad festival the night prior, and then being greeted by her first ever full house in London, Veirs and her two allies put on a scintillating show.

But first we were treated to the literate singer songwriter, Fionn Regan. An Irishman in London, his powerful vocals - part Damien Rice, part Jeff Buckley - will attract him a wide fanbase, but his songs will keep them interested.Obviously well read, his lyrics come with an imaginative, individual perspective. From the merchandise stand, a large amount of the crowd purchased his recently issued debut, ‘The End of History’. On record, his songs are hushed and intimate predominately. Not so when played live, he is a fiery showman. No doubt he’ll be headlining venues such as these in quick time.

But he couldn’t steal tonight’s show.Veirs has a charming stage persona, slightly awkward, but never losing her poise. What is less often noticed is that she is a talented guitarist, and in combination with multi-instrumentalist Steve Moore and drummer Tucker Martine, there were some beautiful musical passages. It is only on her most recent album, ‘Year of Meteors’, that her band has had a prominent place in her music, but this performance was of a real band, not that of a solo artist. Every part of the trio played a prominent role.

Her songs are still wonderful, though. There are few better lyricists, and, with her use of the natural world as a metaphor for romance, she has achieved something genuinely of her own. ‘Cool Water’ is a fabulous set opener, but it was on the likes of ‘Magnetised’ and ‘Galaxies’ where the crowd really came alive. This was not just a full room, it was a room full of fans, and that is a big difference.

Veirs is one of the best songwriters I have had the pleasure of listening to. But that alone does her a disservice. Her and her band will give you a live performance of the very highest calibre. Simply sensational, and my favourite live show of the year.

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Commenting On: Camden Dingwalls, London, 31/7/2006 - Laura Veirs and the Tortured Souls

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