|Brandi Carlile at the Blue Note|
Monday, December 5, 2011
Brandi Carlile @ the Blue Note, Columbia, Mo.
Brandi Carlile’s spectacular voice, wicked guitar playing, and intimate stage presence on Saturday evening shattered my already high expectation for a smokin' hot performance.
Following the opening act (Katie Herzig), the tall beauty appeared on the Blue Note stage with at least five guitars within her reach at all times. Brandi engaged the sold-out audience with the warmth of an old friend, reminding the full house that a concert is an experience that requires mutual participation. Opening with “Dreams” off her 2010 album Give Up the Ghost, followed by two additional original numbers, she stunned by stepping to the front of the stage to offer an unplugged version of one of her most beautiful songs. Forgoing microphone or amplification, she delivered a powerful version of “What Can I Say.” With this, Brandi had the crowd in the palm of her hand for the entire evening.
Throughout the show, Brandi weaved together strong material from all three of her studio albums, a few new/unreleased songs, and a handful of cover tunes. A string of storytelling tied each song to the next and built a rapport between artist and audience unmatched by most performers. She told of her lifelong dream of performing at the Grand Ole Opry and the thrill of meeting one of her musical idols, Wanda Jackson there. Before she covered Radiohead’s “Creep” we learned that it was her Mom who suggested she buy the band’s CD. When she shared a new song (“Christmas 1984”), the first time she performed it live, Brandi explained that not all Christmas songs need be joyous. Her message of avoiding the materialism that overtakes the holiday season was exquisitely delivered through the song.
Brandi belted out her anthem “The Story” as the final song of the set. Hearing her words: All of these lines across my face/Tell you the story of who I am/So many stories of where I've been/And how I got to where I am/But these stories don't mean anything/When you've got no one to tell them to/It's true...I was made for you/, it felt as if she had shared the Story of Brandi Carlile with her new friends in mid-Missouri. The authentic singer/songwriter returned the affection, expressing gratitude and awe for her Columbia audience numerous times. She promised that she would return to the Blue Note to see “one of, if not the best audience” of her tour.
The encore offered a short mini-set, opening with two original ballads. She followed by plucking a lucky young man from the audience who joined her on stage to duet John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” with her. The night ended with a rousing rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” an oft-covered song seldom performed by female singers. She nailed it. Of course.
Brandi Carlile in Parking Lot Following Concert at Blue Note
Brandi Carlile sings "The Story" with her band at Austin City Limits, September 2011. Her performance at the Blue Note was a part of her first solo tour.