This was a while ago, but here’s what I wrote about Jesca Hoop for Nightshift Magazine:
I used to wonder what singers do when they get the hiccups before a gig. The human voice is more fragile than a guitar, and singing for a crowd means taking a risk. Jesca Hoop reminds me of that, partly because she occasionally struggles with her voice, but more so because of the intimacy of her show at The Bullingdon.
After her first song, Hoop tells us an emotional story about her late mother and being raised a Mormon. Religion is a recurring theme: the Jesus-doubting song ‘The Coming’ (“And the coming never came”) is a highlight of tonight’s set. Nevertheless, Hoop keeps the atmosphere light with her sharp and unexpectedly witty remarks.
And she is not just telling us stories; she is asking questions, too. This leads to a few genuine exchanges between crowd and artist, such as when she presumes Oxford doesn’t have much homelessness, only to be corrected by the locals. Such a mutual exchange is rare even at a smaller-sized gig.
The set itself gets better as it goes on, with some of the strongest tracks – ‘Memories Are Now’, ‘The Coming, ‘The Lost Sky’ – close to the end, although on the downside, ‘Memories Are Now’, unfortunately, does not have the same drive as the album version. Surprisingly, Hoop doesn’t play much off her last record, missing tunes such as ‘Simon Says’ or ‘Cut Connection’. But that does mean she plays a few of her older gems, of which the delirious ‘Angel Mom’ is the most beautiful.
The lyrics of Hoop’s encore ‘Storms Make Grey the Sea’, “You sit out there / Did you know what you were in for? / The change in air / When I stepped to the floor,” might as well describe tonight’s gig: engaging throughout and thoroughly personal.
-- Beautiful Freaks, February 23, 2018