Gin Wigmore Live Review

Gin Wigmore Live Review & Album Review | Underground Arts, Philadelphia, PA | April 1, 2016

by • April 13, 2016

She is the epitome of Rock’n’Roll.  She is tattooed and tough, gruff enough to get your mother to be worried for your safety, yet beneath the ink and the look is a most gentle soul who is just trying to find her way in a complicated world.

Gin Wigmore

Gin Wigmore – Underground Arts, Philadelphia, PA

Such as it is for Gin Wigmore, and such as it is on her newest release, Blood to Bone.

Expatriated from New Zealand, Wigmore has been on the “scene “since her 2008 debut EP, Extended Play.  If you listen to the opening track of Extended Play, you will hear that she has a truly distinctive voice.  There are subtle hints of Billie Holiday mixed with a hanging cloud of smoke from Amy Winehouse’s cigarette. Is that the Ronettes playing in the distance?  You just might be right.


I had the opportunity to see Gin Wigmore when she toured with the 2013 WARPed festival.  Her performance certainly stood out from many of the other acts as her brand of rock wasn’t something to which anyone could mosh.  Instead, the crowd pressed up against the barrier in awe of what could be described as a firecracker backed by a smokin’ tight band.

Gin Wigmore seems impossibly frail, right up until she throws her head back and belts out a tune.  She sings about relationships and offers up a warning about the bad men who give all men a bad reputation.  She also slows down to a heartfelt ballad about the feelings one has just before falling in love.

Blood to Bone is a somewhat tempered album when compared to Wigmore’s previous release, Gravel and Wine.  Her singing seems a touch more refined.  I speculate this to minimize the punishment her voice takes in maintaining the vocal crackle that is zone between her mezzo-soprano and soprano range.  Yet, her throaty tone is where all of the emotion lives; it is authentic. It is true.

What I find most interesting about her performance is the expression her hands connote.  Covered with tattooed iconography, her hands show both an unbreakable strength and an understated elegance.  A live performance, to me anyway, has less to do with the music and much more to do with spectacle.  Roland Barthes might describe this aspect of the performance as the “punctum” – the personal detail(s) which creates and then defines the relationship between the art and the spectator.  It is this aspect of spectacle by which the audience is drawn.  Gentle hands wounded by the sharp edges of life — the graveled rough road of the act of surviving, and hands covered in such a way as to make it impossible to see the scars left by the singular act of surviving.

Gin Wigmore Live Review - Underground Arts, Philadelphia, PA

Gin Wigmore – Underground Arts, Philadelphia, PA

Her performance at Underground Arts in Philadelphia was everything anyone could ask.  Underground Arts is a small(ish) venue which offers an intimately close opportunity to see a show. She and her band gave an emotional performance which was a real pleasure to experience.

Her presentation and her swagger reminded me of the years-old myth about Robert Johnson standing at the delta-blues crossroads bartering his soul in exchange for fame.  While I’m sure that Wigmore isn’t interested in selling her soul to the devil, she does have a voice that is authentic and well-rooted in the American music ethos (even though she is from New Zealand).

Gin Wigmore Live Review Gin Wigmore Live Review Gin Wigmore Live Review Gin Wigmore Live Review

Gin Wigmore Live Review

Gin Wigmore

By the way — here is New Zealand… 🙂

Where the hell is New Zealand?

Where the hell is New Zealand? (Image from

Gin Wigmore Live Review, Album Review, and Photographs by Douglass Dresher.

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