The Ruby Lounge
April 20th 2012
I’ve already been singing her praises for the past few months, but since I was first graced with the sound of her hypnotising talent, Ren Harvieu has been sweltering with productivity. She’s been to Nashville to record with Karen Elson and she is just on the verge of releasing her debut album, Through The Night.
Since we interviewed her she has had a few more gigs under her belt and is working towards that all important date. Tonight, at The Ruby Lounge in Manchester, the venue has been deliberately undersold to add to the atmosphere. With just a hundred tickets available, what was supposed to be Ren Harvieu’s album launch, until it got put back a couple of weeks, has a certain air of sophistication about it. Seats and tables have been laid out, and under the glimmer of candlelight the crowd await the woman they came to see.
Tonight she plays a set that is stripped down from her usual vast orchestral sound, and she stands onstage with just her guitarist and keyboardist accompanying the singer-songwriter’s vocals with the occasional harmony. Harvieu herself looks as glamorous as ever, with her trademark colour seemingly becoming black, one that suits her unusually grungy look for a singer with as much soul and superiority as she has.
Her set tonight is a lot more understated yet elegant. The tranquil atmosphere created by the layout of the venue may have influenced the performance on stage. Despite this, the power of her vocals are unavoidable. She reaches an extraordinary peak due to the range of her vocals and shows to those who know little about her exactly why the press and other artists are looking at her in excitement and admiration.
Harvieu is very much a theatrical performer. She is very aware that she has the audience in the palm of her hand as she stares compellingly across the room, glazing over the eyes of each individual as the lyrics fall from her lips. But this isn’t stage school theatrics. This is something powerful; something that is naturally exerted from her body, a unique energy that is twinned with her skills as a songwriter, something showing us she can write melody of classic value, like her single ”ËOpen Up Your Arms’. This is presented alongside her ability to utilise her talent as a performer and vocalist to produce her haunting cover of Roy Orbison’s, ”ËCrying’.
After the show she socialises with the audience. She talks of how buzzing she is in the aftermath of being on stage, even only playing to such a small audience. She talks of Karen Elson, of recording the video to the collaboration and cover of ”ËThe Train Song’, and being outside Jack White’s house for a portion of the filming, ironically he was in the UK at the time. I tell her she’ll be recording with Jack White’s ”ËThird Man Records’ next. We joke and she continues to make an effort to talk to the majority of people in the room. She has her working class values well and truly in her heart; breaking down the barriers between artist and audience, seemingly childlike with the dream of her future recording career, but so sincere and coherent simultaneously. Ren Harvieu is the real deal as an artist and performer, but also as a person to talk to and listen to her aspirations. Her not-quite-yet-ready album launch was a show of subtle magnificence and a delicate, yet powerful performance from Harvieu herself.
The album, Through The Night, out 7th May, is going to be quite the treat.