Category Archives: Birchmere

Live Last Night: Etta James

ettajames

Sasha Fierce, keep your distance.

“Y’all know where Beyonce is?” demanded Etta James at the Birchmere Saturday night. The septugenarian sexpot is still cranky that the 27-year-old one-namer who portrayed her in the film “Cadillac Records” got to sing “At Last” for the President and the First Lady back in January.
Continue reading

Live Last Night: Three Girls and Their Buddy

griffin_miller-x600
Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller

Reviewed for the Paper of Record. Great music, just not enough of it, especially at $110 per ticket!

Three Girls and Their Buddy: Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris, and Buddy Miller, February 3, 2009

The Setlist

01 Belle Star (EH)
02 Truth No. 2 (PG)
03 Twilight (SC)
04 All My Tears (BM)
05 How She Could Sing the Wildwood Flower (EH)
06 I’m gonna miss you when you go (new PG torch song)
07 Fill Me Up (SC)
08 Poison Love (BM)
09 The Other Side of Life (EH)
10 Love Throw a Line [PG]
11 That Don’t Worry Me Now [SC]
12 Shelter Me [BM]
13 Old Five and Dimers Like Me [EH]
14 Up to the Mountain [PG]
15 Keep Your Distance [SC]
16 Wide River to Cross [LH]
17 Abraham, Martin and John [EH]
18 As soon as this over [PG a capella song]
19 Crazy [SC]
20 Chalk [BM]

21 We Shall All Be Reunited

Live Last Night: James Hunter and Ryan Shaw

james-hunter-autograph

Reviewed last night at the Birchmere; showed up on Post Rock and in Thursday’s Paper of Record.   My all-new, all-earlier deadline makes we write things like this:

“If melisma is The Force and Mariah Carey is Darth Vader, then Shaw would be Obi-Wan Kenobi, a steady, beneficent presence who uses his potentially destructive powers for good.”

A Mann-ly Little Christmas, with a Vengeance

aimee_m_xmas_gnome

After more than a year of preamble (don’t ask), my first piece for Express is a short preview of Aimee Mann’s 3rd Annual Christmas show, pulling into the Birchmere on Monday. I enjoyed the prior two interations of this, I liked Smilers, Mann’s new album for this year, and I find her to be an engaging personage in general. So that’s a quadruple recommendation right there.

It’s a Mann’s Mann’s Mann’s Mann’s World, cont.

aimee_mann__smilers_071223_h_2550.jpgPostscript from the big little Birchmere show.

Capsule review: Nice! Aimee was in better voice than she’d been at the Christmas show in December, although still having some troube, most noticeably during “Deathly,” the last song she sang. On the upside, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her smile as much during a performance as she did last night. A relaxed, happy performer is naturally more fun to watch than a nervous one.

As promised, she made up more than half the 19-song set on the fly from audience requests dropped in a bucket at the foot of the stage before the show. (No love for “The Fall of the World’s Great Optimist,” my request, though.) After she chose “Susan” as the first audience-request number, she told us, “Here’s the funny thing: I never remember my own songs. So part of the fun of this is going to be . . . well, I don’t know what about it is going to be fun for you at all.”

She also played eight songs from the upcoming Smilers album, including “Medicine Wheel,” which we heard here at the Birchmere a year and a half ago, “Columbus Ave.”, which she played at the 2006 Christmas show, and “31 Today,” which she performed at last year’s Christmas show. Conclusions: Um, she plays regularly at the Birchmere. And she’s not shy about playing stuff she has no plans to release for quite a while.

Bonus points: she dissed Coldplay when somebody asked for “The Scientist,” stating reasonably enough that since she couldn’t recall her own lyrics, she certainly wasn’t going to remember lyrics as “not necessarily overly erudite” as those. Oh, snap!

The setlist:

*denotes a tune frome Smiliers, the new album she said last night will probably be out in April.

01 (unidentified song from Smilers) Sample lyric: “You’ve got a lot of money but you can’t afford a freeway.”

02 31 Today*

03 Susan (lots of scat-singing, many forgotten lyrics, ultimately aborted)

04 Longshot

05 (unidentified song from Smilers) lyrical snatches: “You love me like a dollar bill,” “love doesn’t change a thing.” Nice change/change wordplay there, Ma’am.

06 4th of July

07 The Great Beyond*

08 The Other End of the Telescope

09 Little Tornado*

10 How Am I Different

11 Medicine Wheel*

12 Invisible Ink

13 Columbus Ave.*

14 Ray

15 It’s Not

16 Borrowing Time* (commissioned for and rejected from the Shrek III soundtrack, she said)
ENCORE:

17 Save Me

18 Wise Up

19 Deathly

It’s a Mann’s Mann’s Mann’s Mann’s World

aimee_mann__smilers_071223_h_2579.jpg
. . . but she still has to talk to me. Well, actually, no, she doesn’t. At all. But I asked her publicist very nicely, and she did.

She seems like a nice lady. Sings a little, too.

They’re Bringing Waxy Back!

51gfbg4yy3l_ss500_.jpg

Huh. I’ve actually spent time trying to hear the difference among 256-kbps AAC files vs. 128-kbps AAC vs. 200-ish kbps LAME-encoded MP3. Meanwhile, those vinyl-loving luddites are fortifying their positions. Or so I hear.

My review of Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder’s marvelous Friday-night show at the Birchmere with the Whites got held for a day, but it’s in today’s Paper of Record.