Archive for the Amy Ray Category

Brandi Carlile: Concert Review

Posted in Amy Ray, Brandi Carlile on February 11, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

YouTube vids only today… because I’m afraid of the blogocide.

I went to a Brandi Carlile show last night at Knoxville’s Bijou Theatre, and a hoedown broke out. More on that later…

I have to start my review of the show with a mention of Amy Ray from the Indigo Girls. Amy opened the show with a solo set that completely put me back on my heels. I’ll admit to not being too familiar with Amy’s solo work, and I went into her set expecting a nice, quiet folk perfomance full of tunes from the Indigo Girls catalogue. What I got was fiery set of full tilt rock and roll from Amy and her rock solid band.

Quite simply… I was impressed. I went in with expectations for one style of music… a style that Amy does very well… and got something else entirely. What’s more, it turns out she does rock just as well as she does folk. Amy Ray is a true professional, and it was a treat to see her perform. I was already sold on her set even before she brought Brandi out to sing two songs to close her portion of the show.

This is a YouTube video of Amy and Brandi singing “Stand and Deliver” from Amy’s 2008 release Didn’t it Feel Kinder (Buy Album). This version was recorded last June in Wisconsin and is a bit more sedate than the version I saw last night with Amy’s full band… but it’s a great sound nonetheless.

After a brief changeover… it was time for Brandi to take the stage. Brandi and her band gathered, bluegrass style, around a single microphone to open the show with a beautiful rendition of “Oh Dear,” the closing track on her new CD Give Up the Ghost (Buy Album). One of the Hanseroth Twins (Phil, I think) played the mandolin as the only accompaniment while Brandi delivered a pristine vocal in front of a four part harmony from the rest of the band. I’ve always known Brandi had a great voice… but it wasn’t until I heard in this setting that I fully appreciated it for what it is. Her performance here was simply captivating, and let everyone in the building know we were in for a great show.

After that, Brandi switched gears into a full band (plus Amy Ray) rendition of “Looking Out.” As spare and intimate as the opening number was, this song was equally lush and bombastic. When Brandi’s band (Tim Hanseroth on guitar, Phil Hanseroth on bass, Josh Neumann on cello, and Allison Miller on drums) was fully engaged, as it was on the more rocking songs of the evening, they drove things to the highest level. Brandi unleashes the full fury of her voice in the full band setting as well. The set closing “The Story” found her practically screaming the final chorus over crashing drums and soaring harmonies from the Hanseroth Twins.
Despite the obvious Rock & Roll flare of most of the show, Brandi was not shy about showing off her folk and country roots to this East Tennessee crowd. Folk love was shown to Bob Dylan with a rather electric rendition of “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” The Hanseroth Twins later opened the encore with just the two of them playing and singing Simon & Garfulkel’s “the Sounds of Silence.” Brandi calls their version of the song, “The most beautiful and disturbing thing you’ve ever seen.”
The highlight of the night for me, though, came when Brandi continued the encore with a crowd pleasing Johnny Cash medley featuring a tease of “Jackson,” in which she sang both Johnny and June’s parts, and a full version of “Folsom Prison Blues.” Brandi demanded that everyone in the house stand and sing along to pay tribute to Cash. No one seemed to argue.
Brandi revealed that she grew up listening to and singing country and western music. She says the old female country singers like Tammy Wynette were a profound influence on her vocal style. To prove it, she belted out portions of Wynette’s “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” “I Don’t Want to Play House,” and “Stand By Your Man” before sharing her own original country song, “Same Old You.” The song was full of all the old country cheatin’ cliches… but it played as a loving tribute to the music of her youth.
Simply put… Brandi Carlile has the goods. Last night was the first time I’ve seen her play live (it was her first headlining gig in Knoxville), and I hope it will not be the last. My wife and I both left completely impressed by her talent and her performance. Go see her if you get the chance.
I’ll leave you with this video of Brandi, Josh, and the Twins performing “The Story” at Knoxville’s local independent record store, The Disc Exchange, before the show. I didn’t get to attend this performance, but luckily someone caught it on video. Enjoy…

Well… that didn’t take long. The video from the Disc Exchange has been removed from YouTube. Here’s something official instead. It’s the video for “Dreams” from Give Up the Ghost.