[ATTENDED: January 30, 2016] Indigo Girls
When I was a radio DJ in college, I received a promo disc by a band called the Indigo Girls, which I listened to because Michael Stipe sang on one of the songs. I really enjoyed the sampler. The Girls’ harmonies were outstanding and the lyrics were clever and funny and very very smart.
And I’ve enjoyed them intermittently for twenty some years. I even saw them at Newport Folk Festival back in 1998 when they put on a fantastic show.
Sarah has been a fan of the band for a long time as well. She saw them at an even more unusual venue–at the American Library Association Convention in 2002.
Neither one of us had seen them in a “proper” venue and thought it would be cool to see them in this small theater in Montclair.
And man, did they sound fantastic. Their first album came on in 1989 and their voices sound exactly the same. Emily can hit the high notes and Amy still has that great gravelly sound (despite claiming to be ill and on steroids to get her voice to actually work–I never would have guessed). And their harmonies are still perfect together.
Our seats weren’t very good (balcony about 15 rows up), so seeing things wasn’t easy (and pictures were a nightmare). But the Theater has a beautiful vaulted ceiling and their voices sounded gorgeous way up there.
They changed instruments after nearly every song, which was fun to see. Emily played a variety of acoustic guitars and a big banjo. Amy played acoustic and electric guitar and mandolin. And they were accompanied by Lyris Hung on violin. I especially liked the one song where she played the violin like a guitar.
They opened with “Fill It Up” a song from what is probably my favorite of their albums, All That You Let In. It’s super catchy and fun to sing a long to and I settled in for a night of singles.
And then I realized that the Indigo Girls have put out a ton of albums that I do not know, including a new album which we bought but barely listened to (and from which they naturally played 5 songs).
Then I learned that pretty much all Indigo Girls songs sound great. They know how to craft fantastic songs and their harmonies are outstanding. One of the new songs “Learned It On Me” was great (with cool pointed lyrics). What’s interesting is that on the album the song is poppy and keyboard filled and their live show is just acoustic. They really do strip down in concert.
One of the songs they played features both Girls on electric guitar (I don’t know which one, though). It had a raw sound–very unlike their usual sound. And even though I liked that they were mixing it up, there’s something about the sonorousness of the acoustic guitar that really suits them better.
One of Sarah’s favorite songs by them is “Get Out the Map” so she was pretty excited to hear it (even if she didn’t recognize it at first since it was played on banjo!). And then they played “Shame on You” which got everyone up and dancing.
They went all the way back to their debut for the very bluesy (and wholly un-Indigo Girls-y “Crazy Game” and then jumped back to the new album for “Olympia Inn” a rocker of a song.
Emily described “Cold Beer and Remote Control” as a song she wrote when she was working at the Kroger.
When Emily said she had a request for a song I thought, “Well, if a hardcore fan is requesting a song there’s no way I’ll know it.” And I didn’t know it. But Interestingly it was not an old rare song but a beautiful solo song from the new album, “If I Don’t Leave Now.”
A song I didn’t know but really liked is “Go,” from Come On Now Social, which has a great squealing guitar solo sound from Emily while Amy sings. I was happy to get introduced to something new (even if its old).
They played a few more newer songs, including one from their previous album (and as I was listening to the words I realized that quite of few of their songs are pretty sad, which wasn’t exactly a secret, but wow).
They opened “The Wood Song” with a violin solo which was pretty cool. Hung played some great trills and some wild runs all in a build up to the start of the song–at which point Emily had to re-tune her guitar. Whoops.
Then they went to their Retrospective album for “Devotion.” And just as I was thinking I wanted to hear something I knew they played “Galileo” which led to a lovely sing along.
For an encore, Jill Hennessy came back and took a verse of “Water is Wide,” a traditional song that I know, but not in any way a barn burning encore song (I was really hoping for a few more songs from the debut).
“Closer to Fine” ended the show in a great way (and made me pumped to hear more song, frankly). The whole room sang along to “Closer” and this is where the acoustics of the building really paid off as we all sounded amazing.
One of the Girls said that they had so many song to choose from now, and I can see that that is true. It’s great that they played pretty much a song from every album, But I would have loved if they had also played a couple of songs from the albums that I actually own.
But regardless, their voices were amazing and it was without doubt a great show.
As with Blue Öyster Cult where people left before the encore, I had to mock the people who left after “Galileo.” What exactly is the big hurry? Again, this isn’t Philly or a stadium. You’re not going to beat any traffic (there’s like 500 people in the theater) by leaving before the amazing encore. Although I was glad that the guy who was behind us and who talked incessantly left a few songs before the end.
And on the way home Sarah and I got to talk about the upcoming Gilmore Girls season with some people leaving the show, so that was cool too.
Jan 30, 2016
Fill It Up Again
|Learned It On Me|
|Happy in the Sorrow key|
|Second Time Around|
|Get Out the Map|
|Shame on You|
|Cold Beer and Remote Control|
|If I Don’t Leave Here Now|
|Able to Sing|
|Spread the Pain Around|
|The Wood Song|