photos by Beth Doreian
[S]unday night’s Sharon Van Etten and Damien Jurado show at the Paradise felt like a well-kept secret. After all they’ve put out two of 2012’s best albums: Sharon Van Etten’s Tramp, and Damien Jurado’s Maraqopa. It was a small
crowd at the Paradise, but everyone in the audience was extremely attentive, and arrived early to catch Jurado’s opening act, giving him just as much applause and acclaim as if this were a co-headlining show. How did we get so lucky? And where
was everyone else? You missed out.
Damien Jurado opened the evening, playing a 50-minute set that mesmerized the audience. It’s rough playing the Paradise when it’s just
you and a guitar up on stage. Perhaps the nicest and most attentive crowd I’ve ever witnessed at the Paradise, the audience practically held their breath for every song. Damien Jurado is known for his downtrodden and depressing music. Witnessing him play without a band, the audience hung on every line, every waver in his voice. His second song of the night, Sheets off of 2008’s Caught in the Trees grabs you at the heart, “Is he still coming around like an injured bird needing a nest? A place to rest his head in a song you’ll regret.”
After opening with a few older songs, Jurado played three songs in a row off of Maraqopa, including a beautiful take of Museum of Flight, and a near perfect rendition of Working Titles, beautifully aided by the harmonies of Sharon Van Etten and her bandmate, Heather Woods Broderick. Jurado played a good mix of songs from his entire catalogue. In his twelve-song set, I counted songs off of six of his albums, including the beautifully written Ohio off of 1999’s Rehersals for Departure. If Damien Jurado didn’t break your heart, you don’t have one.
Sharon Van Etten and her band took the stage shortly after, all wearing matching Damien Jurado merch tees, and played a good 14-song set, with songs almost entirely taken off of her terrific sophomore album released back in February, Tramp. Sharon kicked off and ended her tour this year at the Paradise (see the review of last February’s show here.) As for a show, Sharon and her band kept it pretty simple. For a few songs, images of tree branches and geometric shapes projected on the wall behind the stage, but for the most part, they let the performance stand for itself.
There’s something really cathartic about Sharon Van Etten’s music. On Tramp, Sharon crafted songs that combined her soaring vocals with layers of droning guitars and drums that kick in unexpectedly. And there’s something cathartic in these songs that build slowly, and then end in minute-long stretches of angry release. No song exemplifies this better than Serpents, which opens with a droning guitar that sounds almost like a siren in the distance, a warning sign for what’s to come. And as the volume picks up, Sharon belts angrily, “you enjoy sucking on dreams, so I will fall asleep with someone other than you.” Don’t have anything to be angry about? Doesn’t matter, let it out!
At the end of the night, a satisfied crowd filtered out of the Paradise. Damien Jurado tore our hearts out and Sharon Van Etten’s soaring vocals and thrashing guitars and drums settled the heartbreak. As this was the last night of their joint tour, I wish I could tell you that you can catch these two again. But since you can’t, I’d recommend bumming yourself out with anything from Damien’s extensive catalogue and then switching to Sharon to soothe. Feels good, huh?