Showing posts with label Show Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Show Reviews. Show all posts

May 11, 2018

Show Review / Lindi Ortega / @RamsHeadOnStage

By Scott Colvin

Lindi Ortega’s penultimate concert on the U.S. leg of her world-wide Liberty Tour came to the intimate Ram’s Head On Stage in Annapolis, MD on April 25th. While the venue wasn’t at capacity (it was a Wednesday, so let’s cut the artist and venue some slack) the fans who were there were presented with a thrilling performance by the Canadian country torch singer with one of the finest albums of 2018.

While the majority of the show focused on songs from her striking new album Liberty, Ortega led off the night with a pair of tracks from her “recognized” debut album Little Red Boots -- “Dying of Another Broken Heart” and “All of the Angels.” Both songs (hell, one can say this about most of her songs) were flush with Ortega’s aching vocals and steadied by drummer Ryan Brewer and “Champagne” James Robertson’s jangly guitar playing. “Demon Don’t Get Me Down” off Cigarettes & Truckstops came up next and was a rollicking ride of country attitude and featured a fantastic slide guitar solo by Robertson.

Among the songs from Liberty, Ortega played “In The Clear,” a reflective song about weathering a personal storm, the head-bobbing title track with very western guitar licks, and the slow and sweet “Lovers In Love” a song she said was “one of the first real love songs she’s written” (marriage will do that). 

She also played Liberty’s musically and vocally intense “Comeback Kid,” the album’s first single, featuring Brewer’s ominous drumming which added a certain danger to the song. Ortega celebrated her Mexican/Spanish speaking heritage with “Pablo” and the lovely “Gracias a la Vida” by Chilean composer Violetta Parra which was the encore’s first song. 

Ortega closed out the set with a song about “backstabbers,” “You Ain’t Foolin’ Me” where she slinked and slithered on stage, selling the song while showing her fun side.

Two of the finest moments of the night came when Ortega sang the brilliant Nashville underdog song-writer song “Tin Star” and probably her most known song, the transcendent “Cigarettes & Truckstops.” 

Lindi Ortega is an adept storyteller in melancholia.  There is a pain, power and lucidity in her voice that is absent from today’s party-hardy, feel-good scene (which has nothing to do with real country music) and is certainly welcome and admirable.  

Obligatory shot of Scott and Lindi

May 4, 2018

Show Review / Delta Rae / Rams Head On Stage, Annapolis

by Scott Colvin

Delta Rae cannot be pigeonholed into a specific genre. They are unapologetically country, gospel and pop and have created a sound all of their own without compromise.

What makes Delta Rae special is the vocal diversity among the principle singers (Liz Hopkins and siblings Brittany, Eric and Ian Hölljes) and their impeccable ability to adhere and advance each other’s preferred style, whether it being Hopkins’ spirited country sensibilities, Brittany’s powerful gospel vocals and the singer/song-writer leanings of Ian and Eric. 

Regardless of whose song it is, the close-knit Delta Rae “family” (which includes Mike McKee on drums and Grant Emerson on bass), is a singular unit working together to spread their collective love – Music. And they certainly have a good time spreading that love.

Upon hitting the stage at Annapolis’ Rams Head On Stage (one of the finest under 300-seat listening rooms in the country) they dove right into a groove–laden version of their popular single “Long And Happy Life” featuring Hopkins’ dynamic vocals and the band’s trademarked four-part harmonies; perfectly setting the tone for a night of joyous music.

Throughout the night each singer took their turn to invigorate the sold-out audience. Brittany took the crowd to church with gospel-infused songs such as “Seven Bridges Road,” and “No Dry Eye in the Chapel” (the latter featured fantastic stage interactions between her and Hopkins). On the empowering new song, “Hands Dirty” Brittany channeled her inner Beyonce on a soulful piano-driven tune. The night’s most powerful and poignant moment came when she introduced “All Good People,” inspired by the Charleston, SC church shootings. Before playing the haunting song with a thundering bass drum (played by Emerson) Brittany proclaimed “Raise your voices…it’s not about politics…it’s about right and wrong.” Later in the set Brittany played what she called the “southern gothic folk tale” “Bottom of the River” which employed well-placed call and response vocals, ominous bass drums and theatrical lighting.

Besides the ebullient “Long and Happy Life” Hopkins delivered the goods on the effervescent “I Moved South,” the intense “Chasing Twisters” which found her voice soaring, the high energy “Ain’t Love,” which she explained is about how love is awesome, but pretty scary, and a tremendous version of Chris Stapleton’s “Broken Halos.” The entire vocal contingent surrounded Hopkins on the stunning “No Peace in Quiet” written by Eric who explained that the crushing post break-up song was too hard for him to sing, “So he asked his good friend Liz to sing it” and Liz replied “And I said yes.” You can hear the story behind the song on the music video here. 

Before playing their first break-out song “If I Loved You” Brittany asked, “Hey Liz, can you sing us an upbeat breakup song?” And sing it she did. It’s still one of the finest bittersweet, yet, glorious songs. 

Not to be outdone, the Hölljes brothers Ian and Eric had their moments in the sun with a new song by Ian, “Only in America,” a spirited and catchy mid-tempo song. Eric’s song of California wanderlust despite knowing North Carolina is home “The Wrong Ocean,” and “Morning Comes” reigned as  celebrations of hope. Ian closed out the night and had the appreciative crowd on their feet (typically a no-no at this particular venue, but the rules at Rams Head go often go out the door as the night progresses) with the invigorating “Dance in the Graveyard” which turned into an 80s party as Hopkins danced with crowd members singing Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”

In the end, Delta Rae are a celebration of hope, joy and love with brilliant lead vocals, harmonies and music that warms and invigorates the soul. Even the most cynical person cannot deny their music and message. If you never have a chance to see them perform do so and be healed. 

(Not Scott's video, but from the show he attended)

May 3, 2018

Show Review: Austin's Night With The Distillers

Photo by Holly Jee
by Robert Dean

Typically, when people think of punk rock, and its legacy, it’s mostly a male-driven narrative. Women tend to be an afterthought in the annals of the history of the music. Sure, there’s a little slice laid out for Wendy O Williams and the notorious Nancy Spungen, but by and large, women are forgotten in the long game of the music.

When Brody Dalle announced she was getting The Distillers back together, the Internet immediately rejoiced with fans from far and wide hoping the band would make their way through their neck of the woods. But, like all things on the web, how real were all those comments, how much weight was on the bands first tour in over a decade?

Having sold out almost every show of the band’s first run, it’s clear that The Distillers still have a place in the public’s heart, considering most of the ticket buyers are now in their 30’s who’ve aged right along with Brody, as many wear her lyrics as their reality, as a badge of courage all these years later.

What happened tonight (May 1) at the Austin, Texas stop on tour was hopefully a moment for the band to take stock of their legacy to know that what they did, what they now do again - matters. Tonight, as I stood in the back a sold-out Mohawk, I watched a palate of people cry out, rejoice and scream words that were more than just liner notes, they were a personal mantra.

Photo by Holly Jee
Tonight’s Distillers show didn’t belong to the men. We were nothing more than a set decoration, a band of extras in the hundreds sipping our Lonestar tallboys, watching as everyone’s punk rock crush slammed her way through hit after hit of the band’s catalog. No, tonight was about marginalized voices, about women, about queer punks, about punks of color and everyone in between who felt like the change between the car seats.

The mosh pit wasn’t a dude-dominated sweat lodge of bros slamming into one another, but instead as a percolating, roving circle of exorcism lead and owned by the women in the audience. For them, the things they’ve bottled up for so long, the emotions of being female in a world as fucked up like this, everything spilled out.

The band cruised through a greatest hits setlist any fan would love to hear including “The Hunger,” “City of Angels” and “I Am Revenant” to name a few of the fist-pumping crowd pleasers. Despite Brody’s evident agony of losing her voice, she soldiered through and made the show happen, despite relying on the crowd to do their fair share of the singing, which none seemed upset about in the least.

As I stood in the back, I watched gay punks bob and weave, howling along, I saw women scream along, pointing their fists in the air, chanting each word to songs like “Die On A Rope” or “Oh Serena” with a refreshed meaning and purpose all these years later. 


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