Sharon Van Etten at the State Room, Salt Lake City, March 27, 2012
Sharon Van Etten played the State Room in Salt Lake City last night. I'd seen her there last April. Last year's show was a tour de force, but I'd have to say that Van Etten was even better last night. For one thing, Sharon appears much more comfortable doing what she is doing in front of adoring fans. She looked happier throughout, spoke continuously with the crowd, and everything about the show seemed spontaneous. For another, she pleased at least this crowd member by playing a mix of old and new. I expected her to focus mostly on her new album, but while she did play quite a few of its songs, she was there to play her music, regardless of how old or new it might be, and that's what I was hoping for. Another difference was that this time around, she had someone singing harmonies with her. Heather played multiple instruments and lent her voice to wonderful effect, managing to highlight what is so special about Sharon's. Another difference was that Sharon played acoustic guitar on several songs--I seem to recall that she never put down her red electric ax during last year's performance. A nice change that resulted in a greater showing of her multiple strengths. Finally, the band kicked ass. As emotional as Van Etten's lyrics can be, it's easy to forget that at heart, this girl's a rocker. Great set all around, and here are some photos. Click on 'em to see larger versions.