You can be the greatest performer in the world, but if the atmosphere on the night isn’t right a gig can still fall flat.
Sarabeth Tucek’s intimate gig at the Thekla was by no means a disaster but there was definitely something missing. Mainly an audience.
Just a few dozen people turned out to see the highly acclaimed New Yorker at the upstairs of the venue, which was unfortunate as she is clearly a formidable talent.
She has a beautiful, haunting voice and some fantastic songs across her two albums.
But it’s impossible to avoid the fact that the lack of a crowd contributed to an awkward feel to a short set.
Tucek plays confessional songs that thrive on pauses and being able to hear every delicate inflection.
Although most of the audience were suitably reverential there was one couple in the corner who insisted on blathering through half the show.
Normally this wouldn’t be so much of a problem but with so few people they proved a distracting irritant.
Then there was the lack of conversation from the singer herself, saying few words until a slightly more chatty encore.
Indie legend Mark Kozelek proved a little banter can help break the ice in these low-key shows, when he played the same venue last month.
It’s a shame as the few times she did speak, the ludicrously photogenic Tucek proved to be sweet and endearing.
And none of these shortcoming should take away from the songs themselves, which recall the great Cat Power in their understated brilliance.
The title track from her second album “Get Well Soon” was particularly strong, like a Sylvia Plath poem set to music.
It’s not cheery stuff by any means, but she certainly deserves a larger following.