Readers may recall WC caught Brandi Carlile and her very good band at the Loon last year. The lady can rock, and her band can seriously rock. Despite the problems with the Loon as a concert venue, it was a fine show.
So WC looked forward to Carlile’s solo show at Hering Auditorium last Thursday night with mixed feelings. A far better venue, but the lady is a rocker, and her band is pretty special.
So it was unsurprising that the show was a bit of a mixed bag. WC really missed that band on some of the songs, especially some of the songs from her earlier album, “The Story” (Amazon link). But on the ballads, Carlile’s voice and very good guitar work were great. WC described Carlile as the gifted and talented love child of Patsy Cline and Eddie Vedder. When the songs called on the Patsy Cline genes, she was terrific. When the Eddie Vedder genes got involved, WC really missed the Hanseroth twins.
Hering Auditorium sports a huge Bösendorfer concert grand piano. It has a reputation for being difficult to play. The keys in the lowest octave have to be hit pretty hard to achieve that dark, rich tone. It messes up a player’s rhythm. And on the first two songs Carlile struggled a bit, but she was more used to it in some of the later songs. Not that many pop performers would even try to play it, so WC gives her props for the effort.
Carlile is terrific on Patsy Cline songs. Her version of “Crazy” raises the hair on the back of your neck. And she can do a credible old time gospel song, in this case “His Eye on the Sparrow.”
Her guitar chops are very good. She played an open-tuned Martin dark body, a traditional Gibson and what WC thinks was a tenor guitar. Much better than expected.
And she has an easy, warm relationship with a crowd. The 1,000 or so people at Hering were boisterous, but she was comfortable with it, and seemed to draw a lot of energy from the raucous bunch. Her song lyrics are okay to good; her music good to very good.
All in all, a pleasant evening, with an artist willing to work outside of her comfort zone, and bring it off well. Thanks to Anchorage’s Whistling Swan Productions for bringing Brandi back to Fairbanks.