Rachel Cearns from the Valkyries opened for Hooper; a self-confessed fan girl, Cearns told the audience Hooper was the reason she started a band. And we thank the stars for that, or people may have missed out on the musical mastermind of this ridiculously talented young woman. Cearns used a looper pedal to record a riff, a note, a knock on her acoustic guitar or a breath to layer her original songs and make them sound like she was accompanied by a band and percussion section. An excellent support for Hooper, if you get a chance to check out Rachel Cearns with or without the Valkyries, you should do that because she is exceptional.
After Cearns, Hooper came out to a small, but appreciative crowd, in particular, a group of women side of stage who whooped and cheered every time Hooper spoke. Rather than be put off by them, the ex-front woman of Killing Heidi, gave them love, played to them and encouraged the rest of us to get into their zone. The woman’s still got it; her voice is still as velvety and perfect as ever and she’s still every bit the superstar she was back in the day.
Her new music is haunting, mysterious, sultry and lyrically quite dark at times but songs like Low High and Haxan will remind you why we all loved her then. The title track of the album In Tongues was a hit with the crowd but highlights would be Dead Star which was foot tappingly contagious and Wild Stallions which was hauntingly beautiful. Hooper was accompanied by a small but capable backing band with a couple of guitars, keyboard, bass and electric percussion.
It was great to hear some of her new music but it was disappointing that it was such a brief set, finishing in under an hour. Hooper hung around after the gig to chat, meet fans and sign CDs, and constantly thanked her audience for coming out to see her.
But the thanks were all due to her for loving music so much that she had to write In Tongues and share it with the world, despite her stage absence of almost a decade.
Reviewed by Libby Parker