Keren Ann at the Lord Nelson ballroom

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Keren Ann and the haunted chandelier
  • Keren Ann and the haunted chandelier

I first heard French/Israeli/Dutch/New Yorker/globetrotter singer and guitarist Keren Ann in my little sister's bedroom while home from university one time, so it felt odd seeing her live for the first time in such a comparatively refined atmosphere as the Lord Nelson ballroom Thursday night. I walked in a few minutes late to Keren Ann playing the tough guitar-driven rock song "It Ain't No Crime," followed by a Breeders-like number, looking like Nico or Marianne Faithfull or some other '60s icon against the purple backdrop of the stage. Keren Ann played chameleon her whole set, with the rock show suddenly, almost imperceptibly, becoming poppy and dreamy, her voice sometimes turning little-girl. A faint French accent only occasionally cropped up in her narration of the backstories to her songs. The audience remained rapt, though her comment that it was nice to see Halifax's November-like weather after a hot summer didn't go over especially well with damp and chilled Haligonians. The soft ballad “Chelsea Burns,” though, brought to mind the warmer, sunnier summer New York is apparently having. Keren Ann again switched back to the rock songs, like the bright, distorted chords of “My Name Is Trouble,” off her newest album. When I interviewed her, she spoke so fast that she’d run through all my questions and a dozen more within six minutes, and she kept up that energy level onstage, playing one of my favourite shows I’ve seen at the festival, ending off by telling us she could hear a ghost in the chandelier above the stage and playing it a song.

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