With Vetiver veering away from his usual freak folk style, Getintothis’ Jamie Bowman sees him in fine form.
If one of music’s overarching purposes is to transport you away from the world outside, than Vetiver’s Andy Cabic deserves his own little place at the top table.
For ten years now, Vetiver have ploughed an increasingly gentle furrow. It’s taken them from the forefront of the New Weird America genre, alongside such like-minded souls as former collaborator Devandra Banhart, to 2015’s Complete Strangers album which shows Cabic at his most delightfully harmonious and tuneful.
It’s a journey the devoted gathering inside the suitable cosy surroundings of Leaf Tea Shop have clearly enjoyed with whispers of Cabic’s new more mainstream direction being warmly welcomed as a natural progression for this most underrated of songwriters.
The critics, however, have not been so kind, accusing Cabic of blandness as he shakes off some of the stranger sounds of his past.
Maybe this is why proceedings start tonight with a lovely run through of Oh Papa, the song which opened their genuinely freak folk-infected debut album a decade ago. Following up with the beautiful escapism of Rolling Sea from 2010’s Errant Charm LP and their touching cover of Bobby Charles’ I Must Be In A Good Place Now and you have a pretty nice summation of Vetiver’s various attractions.
As for the new material, Cabic’s newish soft rock leanings come to the fore on Shadows Lane while elsewhere he veers from psychedelic country to Big Star-esque power pop on songs like Loose Ends and Time Flies. The easy jingle jangle of The Byrds is never far away as emphasised by a stunning cover of Gene Clark’s Here Tonight, with the song’s road-worn lyrics of life on tour (“My suitcase is over there somehow I just don’t care / ‘Cause I don’t want to be anywhere but right here tonight”) clearly chiming well with a band who Cabic admits are pretty tired as they play the last show of their tour.
As whacked out as they are, the chance to keep playing is greedily accepted by Cabic and co as encore follows encore and the lights refuse to come on. Just for a moment it could be San Francisco ’67. And that moment is more than enough.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Glyn Ackroyd.