Mazzy Star made a name for themselves in the 1990s with three albums that combined the psychedelia of Velvet Underground with country-tinged acoustic folk. The band never officially split up but the duo of Hope Sandoval and David Roback put Mazzy Star on hold after the release of their third album, Among my Swan in 1996.
Seventeen years later, they returned with the release of Seasons of Your Day. Listening to the album, you could easily forget that almost two decades had passed. On the road with the new album, Mazzy Star made it seem like time had stood still.
For the show at a packed Neptune Theatre in Seattle, they created a bridge between the 1990s and 2013, favouring the fans with songs from the back catalogue. It is a testament to the timeless sound of Mazzy Star that fan favourites such as Fade Into You from 1993’s So Tonight That I Might See and Halah from 1990’s She Hangs Brightly sounded just as captivating as when they were first released. Perhaps even better.
It was a charmingly subdued and somewhat odd show, but odd in a good way. There were short musical interludes between songs as the band set up for the next track. They sounded like incidental music from the 1980s British TV show, Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected.
The audience got to hear a little more of the incidental music than expected after the opening track, when Roback seemed to be having trouble with his guitar. A bemused Sandoval filled the unexpected pause with small talk, suggesting it was time for a break for cocktails, asking for a whiskey, and then admitting she didn’t know what was going on.
It was one of the few times that Sandoval spoke to the audience. For the most part, she let her remarkable voice carry the show. Live, the songs gained a life of their own, as the fuzzy guitar textures of Roback and melting vocals of Sandoval filled the 90-year old Neptune Theatre.
The minimal lighting sought to evoke an intimate atmosphere that would have been better in a smaller venue, rather than a 800-seater theatre. But it was still an entrancing show. When Mazzy Star played Into Dust, the place stood still as the sparse tune featuring vocals, acoustic guitar and violin, filled the auditorium.
Surprising, the show featured only a few songs from the new album, not that the fans seemed to object. It was a treat to be immersed in the psychedelia of She Hangs Brightly and surrounded by the distorted reverb and languid drums of So Tonight That I Might See.