LIVE: Brandi Carlile @ The Egg, 2/4/10

Brandi Carlile

Going to a Brandi Carlile concert you are pretty much assured that she’ll show you a rollicking good time. It doesn’t matter what kind of music you like because she’ll sing her heart out on a Patsy Cline ballad, play the hell out of her acoustic guitar like any of the folk divas out there, and then bang out a piano pop song, ala Elton John.

Gregory Alan Isakov
Opening act Gregory Alan Isakov
Sir John, by the way, is a featured guest on a beautiful ballad “Caroline” from Carlile’s third and latest Columbia Records release, “Give Up The Ghost.” So are Amy Ray from the Indigo Girls, Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker’s Benmont Tench. Add Grammy-winning producer Rick Rubin to the recording, and you can get an idea of the varied musical styles that filled The Egg on Thursday night.

Highlights of the concert included Carlile and her four-piece band starting off the show all gathered around one mic for a bluegrass-tinged, unplugged and stripped-down segment with the full band in swing just “yellin and rockin.” Her long-time musical collaborators – twins Tim and Phil Hanseroth, on guitar and bass, respectively – were bookends at her sides on stage. Meanwhile, barefoot cellist Josh Neumann and tasteful drummer Allison Miller did more than just pull their weight, too. They defined the overall sound, allowing Carlile’s voice to soar in and out of the melody.

The surprise of the evening was the opening act – singer-songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov and his trio, who showcased tunes from his latest indie-release, “This Empty Northern Hemisphere.” (Huh? Since he’s from South Africa originally, is the title a stinging comment on all of us living above the equator?) Sounding a bit like Dave Matthews with the same potent lyrics and passionate notes, Isakov was later invited by Carlile back on the stage during her set for a moving duet on “You Belong To Me.”

Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Brandi Carlile

Brandi Carlile

Brandi Carlile

  1. Kathy Conway says

    Andrzej – Great review and photos from Brandi Carlile’s show. It was certainly an awesome show! It was great to meet you! Rock On! Best – Kathy

  2. Julie Lomoe says

    Glad to see a review of this great show – I searched in vain for a review in the TU. I loved the concert, bought her latest CD and waited in the mob of fans for her signature. She was very pleasant and accomodating with all her admirers, and I was impressed that she didn’t hide behind a table or seem to worry about crowd control.

    I put on the CD for the drive home, and at first I was dismayed – “Yikes, I shouldn’t have gotten this; I’ll never play it again!” But the next morning it sounded fine! I’ve had the same experience with other Egg artists recently – Brian Wilson and Ray Davies, specifically. I’m concluding I should never play a CD right after the artist’s show – it inevitably sounds different, and if the live show was great, the CD always seems to suffer by comparison. Anyone else have this experience?

    Julie Lomoe’s Musings Mysterioso

  3. Julie Lomoe says

    Wonderful concert! Andrzej, it was great meeting you the other night at the Marc Cohn/Suzanne Vega concert at Troy. I enjoyed Brandi much more, though. I usher at both venues – great way to hear lots of music for free, and especially to take chances on artists I’m not too familiar with. But sometimes I pay – tonight I’m going to hear Mandy Patinkin at Proctors. Not usually my favorite kind of music, but I loved him on Chicago Hope and Criminal Minds.

  4. Michael Poulopoulos says


    I agree that after a powerful and moving live performance, the studio recording can sound stilted, scripted and maybe even sterile. I think sterility may be a shortcoming of Carlile’s latest CD.

    I think the music on “Give Up the Ghost” displays Carlile and the Hanseroth twins’ love for the material, talent and able craft, but the recording’s cleanliness and precision disappointed me. I’m unsure if I should fault Rick Rubin’s production approach here, especially when industry ears and wonks credit him with dragging artists out of commercial or general ruts (think Johnny Cash, or Metallica). When compared to Carlile’s previous albums (“Brandi Carlile” & “The Story”), this album fails to let loose in my ear, or roll-up its own sleeves. It’s too tight, too well-dressed, too crisp.

    Granted, Carlile infuses many of her songs with pop elements, such as the opening hook on her second release’s “My Song” and her debut’s “Fall Apart Again” which layers catchy and accessible guitar lines. But for Rubin to draw on those elements and promote them on “Give up the Ghost” seems to miss the mark, in that it avoids Carlile’s raw and natural ability to sound so perfectly pitched while, as she put it, yelling.

    Then again, it may have been Carlile’s intention and direction that refined her recorded sound, and led her further away from a “live” sound while in the studio.

    But with all that said, Carlile’s voice moves me regardless of how she hits my ears. “Dying Day” seems pretty damn close to a perfectly wrapped package, and “Before it Breaks” is a well-shaped tear about to fall into a fit. I’ll support her either way.

    In short, I’m jealous…

  5. Greg says

    Julie – If you’re a Mandy Pantinkin fan, you should definitely check out “The Music of Chance,” a 1993 film he did with James Spader, based on Paul Auster’s novel. In fact, now I want to see it again, too…

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