Lissie - Thekla, Bristol
What happens when someone well known for their guitar driven rock-folk live show goes acoustic? That was the question when Elisabeth Maurus, or just plain Lissie, rolls into the UK with her Christmas themed "Tidings Of Comfort And Joy" tour.
Her previous visits to the UK have been marked by growing crowd sizes, big label support, and a backing band of excellent musicians, this time round the Thekla stage is home to just the Illinois native and her guitar. No backing band, no frills, no messing. It's a good job then that Miss Maurus is loaded with goodwill from the audience and a bonhomie that really suits the more intimate nature of the show. And time of year.
Though being a Monday night means a slightly muted crowd, the main lady is in fine voice, rattling through a setlist heavy on her best songs; the one that cemented the Stevie Nicks comparisons, 'Sleepwalking', is nestled between the celebrity culture bashing of 'Shameless' and 'Further Away (Romance Police)', the three best tracks from her second album Back To Forever. Along the way the touching sentiments of new songs 'Sun Keeps Risin'', 'Daughters' and 'Ojai' suit the stripped down nature of the show perfectly. Another new one, 'Hero', shares many of the mainstream friendly traits of her best output: 'In Sleep' and 'When I'm Alone'. This trio serve to highlight the one downside to the night, that no concessions are made in the arrangement of the tracks for the fact it's just the voice, and what a voice it is, and guitar.
The show though is a triumph, demonstrating the sheer quality of Lissie's songwriting as well as the pure emotion and ability to project empathy that her voice has. Due back in the UK in February this solo tour showed a different side to our favourite down to earth folk and roller.