Where: The Crumblin' Cookie, Leicester
Venue: The Cookie Jar
One of the highlights of seeing an artist perform in a small, close-knit venue is feeling the emotion, atmosphere and presence of the artist. It's why Foals continue to play small venues and it's why The Twilight Sad and British Sea Power have had recent tours specifically at small venues. The Cookie Jar in Leicester suits the acoustic artists and it suited Annie Dressner. It doesn’t however; suit those looking for a decently priced pint. £4.20 for a pint of Peroni, that’s like four bottles of Delirium Tremens in Belgium!
Dressner played eight songs, four from her debut album Strangers Who Knew Each Other's Name, three from her upcoming EP East Twenties and a cover of Elliot Smith's "Between the Bars". She opened her set with "September", introducing the audience to her relaxing guitar techniques and Paul Goodwin's keyboard skills. Following this, Dressner asked the audience of around 100 if anyone had "been to Brooklyn?" To which only three, four people replied with a soft, quiet 'yeah' or 'woo'. Dressner proceeded to play "Brooklyn".
"I Can't Forget" was met with utter silence. The third track East Twenties had even more passion and emotion than the studio recording. It was during "I Can't Forget" when I realised the audience were in awe of Dressner. Her serious lyrical themes are not matched by her on-stage bubbly personality. Dressner said: "Whoever answers the question first will win a prize," It took approximately three seconds before anyone answered her "What is the capital of New York?" question, which is of course Albany. The winner who was standing just to the side of me won an Annie Dressner bag.
Her eccentricity continued in the shape of passing around her contact book for notes, messages and emails. Apparently at the night before show in Birmingham; somebody drew a naked man holding a guitar, although I didn't get to see this artwork. Dressner's cover of Elliot Smith's "Between the Bars" fit into her set triumphantly. She then played the title track from her debut album, "Strangers Who Knew Each Other's Name".
Goodwin's electric keyboard was set to organ for most of Dressner's 30 minute time frame. His organ sounds are excellent on the studio recording of "Lost in a Car", however not as loud or prominent as when the duo performed this track live. "Heartbreaker", the first track on East Twenties sounded brilliant. Dressner tells many stories over the course of her set, with listeners hanging on every word. Dressner's personality was one of the most memorable aspects of her performance, such as when she embarrassingly admitted to needing to blow her nose, and her tissue was kept in one of her boots. In just half an hour, Dressner came across serious, comical and artistic. She ended her set with the first track on Strangers Who Knew Each Other's Name, "Fly".
Dressner knows how to please an audience and she does just that in such a small amount of time. Her songs are powerful and back by Goodwin's keyboard, the musical aspect of her performance is spot on, there were no noticeable mistakes. You can catch Annie Dressner and a whole range of artists on her tour. She currently has a pledge drive for her upcoming EP, I advise you to pledge, or at least follow her Facebook for updates.