Tonight's gig is something of a metaphor for Jesca Hoop's career so far; something truly wonderful that's unfairly lost in the crowd. A local support band fills half the venue with what seems like an extended family and, after a chronically dire set, they hang around. So it is that when we get to the top of the bill there is an odd and strangely acrimonious atmosphere, a crowd polarised between the adoring and the uninterested.



Jesca Hoop arrives in a vast and wonderful green coat trimmed with white fur. Even as she sits cross-legged on the stage, tuning her guitar as the band set up, there's something undeniably watchable about her. Tousled black locks drop before her face and a seductive voice greets the noisy crowd. Her darks eyes often find cameras and she poses easily. Remaining the unequivocal focus of attention amidst an arguing crowd is a real skill and one the Ms Hoop displays with grace.



erformed mostly from her second album Hunting My Dress, the set is sprawling and varied. Things move from the quirky, angular 'Whispering Light' to the quietly beautiful 'Angel Mom'. The setup is minimalist, departing from the polished sound of the album, with only another guitarist and a backing singer in attendance. It works perfectly, drawing the raw slaps and twangs required of a song like 'Bed Across the Sea'. The bare bones of the tracks are performed with such life and vigour that any other band members might seem superfluous.



The only problem tonight is that to appreciate that on stage one had to work rather hard. With such an odd tension splitting the crowd this never fully settles and a set that should have enraptured seemed stilted and forced. Those willing to listen would have found the haunting beauty of 'Murder of Birds' and got to savour the smoky, husky vocals that thrilled the devoted few. A strange night in all, but deep below the noise there was a fantastic set striving to get out.



With a different promoter and new support band scheduled, you can be sure the issues of tonight will be absent when Jesca plays Sneaky Pete's in Edinburgh this Monday the 15th. Tickets are here.