March 3rd | Louisiana
“There was a time last year when I didn’t think I’d be able to tour abroad again,” Torres says part way through her show at The Louisiana. “It means so much to me that you’re all here.” And there’s no doubt that everybody in the audience is glad they’re here as well: Torres and her band sound huge and unstoppable tonight.
It’s been a tough couple of years for Torres, aka Mackenzie Scott. After she was dropped by her record label, following the release of the stunning Three Futures, she considered leaving the music industry altogether. Thankfully that didn’t happen. Her new album, Silver Tongue, whose songs make up most of her Bristol show, is her best yet, and sees her grapple with love and relationships in a uniquely Torres way. They’re songs that sound giant live, Scott’s voice booming through The Louisiana as if it were a huge cathedral.
‘Good Scare’, which opens the show, is haunting and ominous. The song begins with a swamp of rattling electronic percussion before Scott’s voice rises out of the sonic mist. Her guitar, jagged in tone, leads the charge through the song, while the rest of her band fill things out with additional layers and texture. It’s a song that finds strength in its restraint; there’s an intensity bubbling under the surface that keeps everyone on edge.
“This is the first show of the tour, so we’re pretty much high on nerves,” Scott says early on in the set. It doesn’t show. The band do a great job of delivering the two sides of Silver Tongue, the heavy, menacing one and the more tender one. ‘Good Grief’ has a dark swagger to it, driven by a chugging drumbeat and a series of dirty guitar licks. At the other end of the scale is ‘Gracious Day’, which Scott dedicates to her girlfriend in the audience. She delivers the song solo, fingerpicking her guitar gently and crooning the lyrics. It’s Torres at her most tender and shows the heart that sits at the centre of her music.
The band also find space for a couple of older songs from the back catalogue, such as the moody and off-kilter ‘Cowboy Guilt’. Then there’s fan-favourite, ‘Sprinter’, which is as captivating as it’s ever been. It’s quintessential Torres, and highlights Scott’s incredible knack for telling stories through her music. Both songs are strong reminders of just how many great tracks she has in her back pocket at this stage.
To close out the show, the band indulge in a revved-up version of ‘Helen in the Woods’. “Sorry for the sound in advance,” quips Scott before they begin. With the distortion on the guitars dialled up to eleven, the song is transformed into an all-out rager. It really gives the band a chance to let loose in the final few minutes of the show, invoking a punk-rock sense of energy. It’s just another of the many sides of Torres shown off tonight; she’s an artist that’s impossible to pin down. And that’s why the music she makes continues to be so exciting.
See the video for ‘Dressing America’ here:
Featured Image: Michael Lavine