Array: Georgia Flynn / georgiaflynn.com

Eleanor Friedberger

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  • Buffalo Riot
  • Lunar Runway
I Love Live Events @ Arts Club

If fresh-faced youths with an Arctic Monkeys fixation are your thing, LUNAR RUNWAY have big shoes to fill. Even though they’re just starting out, they’re winning at Liverpool venue Top Trumps, adding Arts Club to Studio 2, O2 Academy, and Sefton Park Palm House (at X&Y Festival). In fact, the only criticism (and it’s a small one) is that there’s no attempt to recreate the heavenly choirs of On The Bathroom Tiles in a live situation.

BUFFALO RIOT are in the middle of an unashamedly wide road, but they’re flipping well-rehearsed, tight as something really tight, and play the Loft at Arts Club like it’s a stadium. They’re on something of a high right now, with their album Pale Blue Oceans released over the summer, acclaim for their session at the last Liverpool Acoustic Festival, and now a juicy support slot for one of the most acclaimed songwriters this year. Oh, and a substantial fan club making up most of the audience. Unfortunately, they take half that audience with them when they leave the stage.

Fortunately, they’re supporting an artist who thrives on intimacy. Rooting through a tote bag and fiddling with the settings on her amplifier before her set proper, ELEANOR FRIEDBERGER is still an effortless stage presence. Even with her back turned, she’s the natural focus of our attention. Her material might often be slower, quieter, more spacious than her support acts’, but it waits for nobody and leads the audience wherever she wishes: there’s a wake of rapt listeners trailing after the last chords of each song.

With a growing back catalogue to draw on (Because I Asked You, A Long Walk), Friedberger can afford to throw in a few songs by her ‘other band’ The Fiery Furnaces (I’m Gonna Run, Keep Me In The Dark, and Benton Harbor Blues as a welcome throwback to the more innocent days of 2006) and even gently magnificent cover of Cate Le Bon’s Love Is Not Love. It’s her own words that echo longest, and not just because of the sparse audience. She delivers her lyrics with a Mona Lisa gaze that reaches wherever you stand in the room. Some are rooted to the spot; it’s a mystery how she manages it as a flesh-and-blood performer. Indeed, listening to Stare At The Sun (containing the fabulous tercet, “If that was goodbye/Then the sea has run dry/So I’ll fill it with tears instead”), you could be forgiven for thinking it was the sun staring at you.

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