Hope Sandoval is the antidote to the big rock show. Sandoval, who achieved modest success as the frontwoman for ’90s alterna-darlings Mazzy Star, came to the Bluebird on Thursday night in support of her new CD, “Through the Devil Softly,” her first release since 2002.
Whereas many rock shows seem to emphasize bigger lights, productions and spectacle, everything about Sandoval’s show was designed to emphasize the music. She and her band, the Warm Inventions, were barely backlit onstage, so they performed mostly in the dark. Indeed, you could barely see their faces.
Sandoval’s video display was also lo-fi, a series of images that looked like they were from 1920s silent films projected on a giant bedsheet behind the drummer.
All of this served to showcase the music even more. At times, the Bluebird felt like a church filled with Sandoval co-religionists. The atmosphere was so chill that, though the lead guitarist muted his sound when he tuned between songs, you could hear him plucking the strings.
Sandoval herself is a contrast to singers who seem all about ego. She barely spoke to the audience at all, saying “thank you” on three separate occasions. And once, when someone in the audience screamed Hope’s praises, she allowed herself a wry smile and said, “Aren’t you guys bored? Just a little?”
Musically, she and her band were tight from the first song, “Blanchard,” which is also the first song on the new CD. Backing band the Warm Inventions are former My Bloody Valentine Drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig and Irish band Dirt Blue Gene, who also opened the show. Guitarist Dave Brennan added a beautifully textured solo at the end of “Blanchard.”
Dirt Blue Gene singer/guitarist Charles Cullen played delicate acoustic guitar over Cíosóig’s shuffle beat on the drums during “Thinking Like That.”