Kristin Hersh: St Paul’s Arts Centre, Worthing

US alt. rock stalwart turns in a superlative show on the South Coast

Mar 31st, 2019 at St Paul's Arts Centre / By Norman Miller
Kristin Hersh: St Paul’s Arts Centre, Worthing Over four decades – I first saw her in 1989! – Kristin Hersh has carved a special niche for fiercely distinctive songwriting, from grungy alt-rock to sharp-edged folk. She rocks up on the South Coast on her current Live & Loud tour in the beautiful setting of St Paul's Church Arts Centre to deliver a thrilling set ranging across nearly a dozen solo albums plus dips into her Throwing Muses and 50 Foot Waves catalogues.

She's playing with ex-Muses guitarist Fred Abong and 50 Foot drummer Rob Ahlers, and everyone hits top form from a rip-roaring kick off with LAX and No Shade In Shadow from Hersh's latest solo album, 2018's Possible Dust Clouds - which later provides the snarling psych-infused Tulum.

There's a hypnotic pleasure watching Hersh perform. Barely moving on the stage, little sways of her head and growling snarl of her delivery convey quiet intensity as she sends crunching hooks and neat guitar solos out into the room.

There are no dips either over around 15 songs, the mood perfectly judged - as when fierce versions of Your Ghost and Husk segue into the acoustic The Thin Man. Generally, though, the tempo is breathless wall-of-sound with only a couple of brief pauses for Hersh to swap guitars.

Crooked comes with a delicious little Hersh guitar solo, while Halfway Home is a mosh-friendly marvel if only Worthing did mosh pits. Sand provides a superb mid-tempo strut, while the Throwing Muses classic Limbo is another late highlight, featuring sinuous bass from Abong and a soaring solo from Hersh.

Crowd favourite Cuckoo brings the main set to an end in grand style, before the band return quickly for a stunning encore of Broke. “Fuck, yeah!” someone had called out early on, and that pretty much sums up a brilliant night. Long may she continue.