Review: Emmy The Great, Sheffield Cathedral

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Emmy The Great, Sheffield Cathedral

THERE’S something satisfying about seeing Emmy The Great play the Meat Puppets’ Lake Of Fire – a song about where “bad folks go when they die” – in one of Sheffield’s holiest buildings.

The song was made famous by Nirvana’s harrowing version, but in the hands of Emma-Lees Moss and her band, it almost becomes a heavenly folk lullaby.

Moss herself has a delicately soothing voice, which hits the high notes with perfect fragility. The band, meanwhile, uses rumbling electric guitar, humming bass and soft layers of synth to weave a thick blanket of ambience, which warms the stony cavern of the Cathedral.

As folk singer-songwriters go, Moss comes from the more unusual and imaginative end of the spectrum, which gives her the freedom to use wonderfully playful imagery in her lyrics. Unfortunately, some of the songs from her forthcoming second album, Virtue, sound a bit plain. They are all expertly and painstakingly delivered, but they seem to lack the distinct personality of Moss’ more eccentric early material.

That said, this set has plenty of highlights: the melody of Iris twinkles beautifully, while First Love rattles to a fantastic, heart-quickening crescendo. And when the band returns for a second encore to perform a goofy cover of The Pixies’ Where Is My Mind? it’s conclusive proof that they are far from being your typical acoustic guitar-wielding dullards.

Folky grunge covers might not be what the Sheffield Cathedral’s architects had in mind all those centuries ago, but you know what? It works.

Robert Cooke