Miranda Lee Richards (myspace) was onstage when I arrived. She played acoustic guitar and harmonica and sang. Her sound was pleasant enough in the singer-songwriter genre but I didn’t find it too engaging.
Neil Halstead is the front man in Mojave 3 and he was in the seminal shoegaze act, Slowdive, before that. While I don’t know the recorded output of either of those bands particularly well, he has also released two solo albums, Sleeping on Roads and Oh! Mighty Engine (previously), both of which get a good number of plays on the old ipod.
He started his set alone on the stage with “Martha’s Mantra”, one of my favorite Halstead tunes. After a few more tunes, he was joined by another guitarist and a bass player. Halstead’s tunes are the sort that make you want to dance or jump around. They’re actually quite soporific, but their strength lies in the soothing melodies, his hushed vocals, good lyrics and solid finger-picked guitar patterns.
I feel like his live set could be hit or miss. For me, both times I’ve seen him, I really enjoyed his set. However, I could see that if you’re not in the mood for a very low key show, you might not enjoy it as much.
When the show and encore ended, I looked at my watch and was surprised to see that he’d played for about 1.75 hours; that’s a pretty long set at the Cafe du Nord, especially since much of it was solo or only with a few added flourishes from the other musicians. The time seemed to fly by for me.