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Hannah Peel prevails with synth-pop paean

By Chris Jones

We could, and probably should, claim Hannah Peel for our own.

Though based in London, both of the singer-songwriter's parents are from Northern Ireland – her dad from Armagh, her mum from Fermanagh – and she lived in Craigavon as a child.

Peel was alone on stage with a variety of synthesisers, the better to produce the immersive electronic backdrops for her beautiful songs. Her love for 1980s synth-pop was clear in her own material but, cleverly, when she paid homage through covers of New Order, The Blue Nile and Soft Cell, the synthesisers took a back seat and a music box – punched sheets of paper passed through a metal instrument – became the main accompaniment to her pure voice.

But her default setting was synth-drenched, moody pop the like of which SOHN has been making hay with lately. Fabricstate featured a glorious synth break that might have Vangelis raising his eyebrows in appreciation, while the solemn Desolation Row evoked rain-sodden streets and grey concrete.

Peel was a captivating on-stage presence and it was a triumphant homecoming.

Four stars

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