Jessica Pratt’s album Night Faces was a regular on my stereo in 2014. Spotify even claims that she was the artist I played the most during that whole year, though the fact that I often fell asleep with Night Faces on repeat might have messed with their stats. But this is just to say that I had really been looking forward to hearing her live. Yet as the show progresses I find it hard to enter the music, and it is only when I close my eyes that I find the Jessica Pratt that I have come to hear, her music at the same time intimate and distant.
I open my eyes again, gaze over the chairs – the concert is one of those where people are seated – and ask myself what the ideal concert with Jessica Pratt would look like. What comes to mind is an installation by Olafur Eliason, Your Atmospheric Colour Atlas (2009): a room filled with fog (like a Sunn O))) gig ) and lit in different colours, so that you get the feeling of being completely isolated and immersed in colour.
I close my eyes again and a new image appears. I imagine Jessica Pratt by a window in a rooftop apartment playing her guitar (something like this session with St. Vincent), and I realise that to me Jessica Pratt’s music lives on the extreme side of the distance/intimacy continuum – and that the setup at Jazzhouse doesn’t take me there. But let me be clear, Jessica Pratt and her guitarist perform the music to perfection, and Pratt’s dreamy voice and finger picked guitar come out crisp and beautifully accompanied by her second guitarist. The volume is low, very low, but it helps to bring her closer. Jessica Pratt addresses the audience with only a few words and doesn’t do much to boost the visual appearance of the show. That is not what bothers me either, I can’t image it would have suited the music if she had taken on the role of an stand-up comedian.
In the end it comes down to the rows of chairs lined up against each other, the plastic kind that are hard to sit on and easy to stack. I get the point about seated concerts: they help people shut up and keep their phones in their pockets. Looking over the rows of people sitting upright, backs straight, I see a woman leaning her head on the shoulder of a man. It looks as if they are having a magical moment – Jessica Pratt’s music has the potential to create those. This time it only happen to me as I shut out everything except the music. I guess I have to work on my attitude towards chairs.