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Despite most of Saturday being one of glorious sunshine, the slow encroaching of dark clouds in the early evening threatened to turn Agnes Obel's Somerset House performance into a washout. Indeed as people started arriving and finding a spot in front of the stage those ominous clouds made good on their promise and treated the early attendees to a sudden downpour, sending staff scurrying around to grab umbrellas and ponchos. The audience was split into three distinct groups: the prepared, who simply opened their umbrellas; the desperate, who went hunting for any shelter they could find; and then there were those who just braved the rain, hoping it would end as suddenly as it had started. Fortunately, they were in luck as the rain soon stopped and the crowd were treated to a cool, if heavily overcast, evening.

The courtyard of Somerset House makes for a spectacular setting for the evening's music, something both Agnes and support act, Laura Doggett comment on. "I don't think I've ever played in such a beautiful place before" Laura says midway through a set that manages to win over everyone in attendance and rewards those whose shirts still show signs of the recent downpour. Backed by a percussionist, keyboard player and bassist she runs through a confident, affecting set that manages to showcase an impressive voice and some beautiful songs. In between tracks she engages with the crowd offering insight into the stories behind the songs, such as the return to her hometown which inspired 'Same Faces'. Stand-out moments included the beautiful 'Into The Glass' - due to be released as a single later this year - and 'Moonshine'. The latter song making the most of Laura's soulful voice and featuring a pared back arrangement that was catchy without being distracting.

Unfortunately it was clear that sound quality was something of an issue during the performance with Laura's voice not being projected as clearly as it perhaps should be and occasionally (particularly during louder moments) sounding a little too distorted. I put this down to the sound being mixed for Agnes Obel, but I also noticed that there hadn't been a soundcheck prior to Laura Doggett's performance.

During the support, and right up to the point Agnes Obel took to the stage, the crowd began to fill out and the break between acts provided an opportune moment to take a look at the audience I was with. Unsurprisingly, there were a large number of couples in attendance, most of whom skewed towards middle age and middle class. Just to the side of me a quartet of women uncorked a bottle of champagne they'd somehow snuck past security in a large tote bag and proceeded to pour into plastic flutes.

The light was fading as Agnes Obel took to the stage dressed in white and accompanied by a trio of string players - two cellists and one violin / viola player. Promising the crowd a new set to what she's played previously, Obel opened the show with the intricate 'Philharmonics', taken from the 2011 album of the same name. The set was a even blend of both Philharmonics and Aventine, and managed to balance moments of quiet grace with breathtaking euphoria.

Agnes Obel's voice soared over the crowds, with just a little echo added to provide a degree of atmosphere. Her backing band also contributed vocals, harmonising with Obel to create astonishing choral moments that far surpassed anything on her records. The string players were also incredibly accomplished performers, utilising loops and often becoming the clear focus, particularly on the more climactic moments. As such, the stage set-up was more geared towards functionality, with only four large, industrial lamps providing anything resembling decoration. The lighting was also simple, yet effective - bathing the four women in a deep red light during 'Fuel to Fire' or giving the walls of Somerset House a blue tinge. On some tracks the players were merely lit with white light, smoke drifting across the stage like sunlight pouring through fog.

Unfortunately some of the sound issues re-appeared during Agnes Obels performance. On a number of occasions the lower notes tended to overwhelm things, most notably in the closing moments of 'On Powdered Ground'. What should have been a glorious, powerful moment of frantic violin, was instead mainly characterised by loud bass that erupted out of the speakers drowning out everything else. In part this seemed to be due to the instruments all being mixed at the same volume, an unfortunate side-effect of live performance which makes it harder for the same level of control. However, it is also extremely likely that the venue itself was a large part of the problem. Agnes Obel's music is often so delicate, so incredibly intimate that to project that feeling to several thousand people, outdoors, where the sound can be carried off by the wind is to risk losing the emotive impact of the music. Obel herself made reference to this contrast during the introduction to 'Dorian' a song which she described as "difficult to explain in this situation...it's about being alone with another person." Maybe if the performance had taken place indoors many of the issues around the sound would have faded away.

Regardless, Obel and her backing musicians performed perfectly, delivering a powerful set that would still be able to move even the hardest of men. The main set ended to rapturous applause, for which Obel treated us to a haunting cover of John Cale's 'Close Watch' (which appeared on the Riverside EP) and finally ending the show with a solo performance of 'Smoke & Mirrors'. Illuminated by a single light that fell across her and her grand piano, it was the moment of intimacy she'd been searching for all evening. The audience were silent, appreciative and when the song ended, Obel stood, bowed and left the stage without a word - there was nothing more to be said. We left Somerset House mesmerised, astonished, in love with the sound of another human bearing their soul to us. It was, despite everything, wonderful.