REVIEW: Mazzy Star singer Hope Sandoval shines with The Warm Inventions in Berkeley

Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions, Hope Sandoval

BERKELEY — Hope Sandoval and Colm Ó Cíosóig have both made a name for themselves with other bands; she as the vocalist of dream pop band Mazzy Star and he as the drummer of shoegaze pioneers My Bloody Valentine. Together, they make laid-back tunes as Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions, and Friday their group played a soft and mellifluous set at the UC Theatre.

They created their unique progressive folk sound by mashing Sandoval’s signature voice and Cíosóig’s post-punk influence. Throughout the set, the band played not only the entirety of its new EP, September’s Son of a Lady, but also numerous tracks from its previous full-length album, 2016’s Until the Hunter, like “Liquid Lady” and “Let Me Get There” (minus the Kurt Vile duet; he’ll be in the Bay Area with Courtney Barnett next week), and “Trouble,” off 2010’s Through The Devil Softly.

Throughout the show, the backdrop rotated past old portrait photos from the early 1900s, which lended a hand to the ethereal vibe. The 20-minute encore ended with a fan favorite, “The Hiking Song.” Sandoval did not leave her dedicated fans disappointed.

Even on Friday the 13th, the show went off without a hitch—well, almost. The only misfortune was a single stumble during one of the earlier songs. It was nothing like what happened to fans in Seattle two nights earlier, when Sandoval walked off the stage for a nearly one-hour delay, which Ó Cíosóig attributed to the shock of barely escaping the North Bay fires. The band had played at Gundlach Bundschu Winery in Sonoma on Oct. 8.

Sandoval didn’t let Friday’s misstep slow her down, and continued with her enchanting lyrics like “Sleep sleep, until you feel desire/ Sleep sleep, until you don’t feel alone” from “Sleep,” a song from the new EP. The xylophone contrasted the dark, longing lyrics, and added a youthful longing to the sound.

San Francisco husband-wife duo Peaking Lights opened the show. The duo matched the ethereal nature and ambiance of Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions. The atmosphere the two created over a 30-minute set perfectly set the stage for the headliner. The setlist included newer tracks from 2017’s The Fifth State of Consciousness, such as “Everytime I See the Light,” as well as some older material like “Conga Blues” and “Rare Done Vibes.”

(10) Comments

    1. Danny Hauger Music

      I stood two rows back from the front. I felt neutral when I walked in, and a little sad walking out. I enjoyed the rhythm section, and the musicianship was good - generally I enjoyed the subtle flow and electric guitar playing of a skilled musician. The reverb was a bit high for me, and the lack of lighting created a disconnect for me. I enjoyed Hope's voice, but would have loved more interplay, or banter, but I still thought everything was just fine. I left a little sad, because each song is sad, I liked the groove of "Trouble" but did not connect with many of the other songs. It wasn't a fun outing, but maybe that wasn't the design. I liked the general vibe, but did not feel the enjoyment or the heart that went into the composition, it didn't send me to a new place in my own music - which is the inspiration I go see live music for. The silence between songs, the lackluster crowd, and the darkness throughout was dimming, but not bad, one song from Mazzy Star, "Fade Into You" ( I know, not the group I paid to see) would have left me walking home happy. Hope sounds good, as does the band, and the show was fine. I was hoping for more, but enjoyed the solos, extended drumming on he finale, strong rhythmic bass playing, and the back-up singers.

  1. Bob Bee

    In glaring contrast to Neve's comment claiming the show "completely sucked", I saw this glowing mini review on Twitter I'll QUOTE: "femme.jatale‏ @emptybonezzz I have no words for seeing Hope Sandoval last night. She's so pure and beautiful. Most intimate concert I've ever been to for sure." -I wish both commenters could be a bit more specific in their praise & criticism. e.g. WHAT, in particular "sucked.". And WHAT exactly does femme jatale mean by the words "pure" and intimate, I wonder? These are all rather vague terms left unexplained.

    1. Dave Howard

      When I said it sucked, it was from a place of a fan of music who didn't know anything about Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions, other than she was the lead singer of Mazzy Starr. I was fortunate enough to be invited to the show. The music was unapproachable. The musicianship was fantastic, but was anybody enjoying it? The band? couldn't tell. The lead singer? couldn't tell (again, doesn't even know the lyrics to her own songs). Was the rest of the audience enjoying it? couldn't tell. This is a commentary on the show Friday night, not on the music itself. The show was boring. Maybe the music wasn't boring, but it was hard to tell. I love live music and have been to hundreds of shows, all kinds of music, (I saw Mazzy Starr decades ago at the Bridge School Benefit), and this was not a good show. A lot of going through the motions. I think "intimate" meant it was so quiet and so little energy that it felt like you were alone at the show.

      1. tom scanlan

        I was there and was mesmerized. I took in every nuance. Like at as museum... you can't always tell if the viewers are enjoying what they see.

  2. Dave Howard

    It did suck. I think it had a lot to do with the crowd. No one seemed excited to be out on a friday night. Up by the stage, no drinking, no smoking, no energy. After each song, polite applause then absolute silence (so quiet you could hear the amps crackling). Hope at one point said we were a very quiet crowd, i don't think it was meant in a positive way. It didn't help that the stage lights were turned off for the whole show, no on stage banter, and the lead singer hasn't memorized the lyrics yet. Maybe people's minds were on our state being burned down.

  3. Darwin h saunders

    Part of the fun in seeing Hope Sandoval in concert is not seeing Hope Sandoval. The music is the real star and that is emphasized by turning off the lights. The Warm Inventions are incredible live, especially if you are already familiar with the meticulous songs from their groovy catalog. Music of this quality is not meant for everybody. Sometimes art is set up in a way that it may escape some people. Obviously she aint J-Lo, and we can thank God for that.

  4. Robert Meyers

    I was at the show at the Royale in Boston on October 21st and my feelings are completely in accord with Tom Scanlan's comments. I was fortunate to stand about 6 feet away from center stage with a few people in front of me and direct view of Hope (when she wasn't playing the vibraphone that is) so may have enhanced the experience for me, and perhaps audience further out had a much different take given some had difficulty seeing Hope. The crowd was loud and enthusiastic in the song breaks, generally quiet during the performance. I'm not qualified to review the music as a whole. Was more familiar with the bands first two albums, but even the newer songs which I was less familiar were moving.

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