When I first met Sahara Beck back in the early days of Banshee’s existence, we talked a fair bit about the necessary vulnerability of the live performance. That music had to come from a place of sincerity or else the show would fall flat. Seeing her take the stage at The Gasometer as part of her tour for newly released album Panacea, it was clear that her willingness to meld the narratives of her past and present with the melodies of her genre-defiant songs was the backbone to an impressive performance.
Backed by a raucous band, Beck bounded from the stomping ‘Here It Comes’ to more folk-bluesy inclined arrangements to a straight ol’ fashioned country hoe-down with a lively cover of The Jungle Book’s ‘I Wanna Be Like You’. She sang of relationship breakdowns, of hallucinating a tap-dancing woman on the roof as a child and of friends exaggerating stories with single ‘Spinning Time’. As she took us through the tracks of the album with exactly the determination one would expect from a performer who had released her first LP at the age of fifteen, it became apparent that Beck deserved a grander stage. Her songwriting comes at you open-armed and her voice is commanding both as part of a crashing ensemble of sound and as a valiant boom in the more sparser of tracks.
The show ended with a fast and furious cover of Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name Of’, a sort of cut-time cabaret inspired rollick that would fit well on any festival stage in the future. But within the cosy confines of The Gaso, Sahara Beck was able to utilise the vulnerability we discussed when we first met to engage her audience through the stories in her songs, the influences that shaped her, and the bits of humorous banter peppered throughout the set.
Sahara Beck’s ‘Panacea’ is available now.