LIVE: Anais Mitchell @ Caffe Lena, 5/16/10

Anais Mitchell
Anais Mitchell

What kind of singer-songwriter rolls into town in support of a new album – the most acclaimed of her career – and then only plays two songs from the album?

A very arrogant performer? That’s definitely not Anais Mitchell.

A superstar with so many old hits to try to squeeze into her concert? That’s not Anais Mitchell, either. At least, not yet…

Mitchell slipped into Caffe Lena in support of her new album, “Hadestown,” and sang only the album’s opening “Wedding Song” and “Why We Build the Wall.” The album is a folk opera – a haunting, jangling rendition of the Orpheus myth re-set in some post-apocalyptic American depression era – with an impressive cast of vocalists including Ani DiFranco, Greg Brown and Bon Iver, as well as Mitchell.

The truth of the matter is that Mitchell was simply dazzling no matter what she chose to perform – a cappella Arabic folk songs, ancient Childe ballads (“Clyde’s Water,” “King Willy”), twang-laced country weepers (“When You Fall,” “O My Star”), whatever.

Mitchell has got the complete package – great songs, a distinctive vocal style, charismatic stage presence. Accompanied by electric guitarist-harmony vocalist Jefferson Hamer, Mitchell proved that she is an undeniable star in the making.

Boston singer-songwriter Anne Heaton opened the evening’s entertainment with a too-short at the electric piano, highlighted by the sweet love song, “Megan and Kevin.”

It looks like Mitchell will be making a return trip to Nippertown this summer – performing at The Linda in Albany on Saturday, July 10. Stay tuned for info on when tix go on sale.

Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

(with Jefferson Hamer on vocals, electric guitar)
Namesake (solo)
O My Star
To Be a Child of His (?)
Out of Pawn
The Wedding Song
Why We Build the Wall
Clyde’s Water (or The Drowned Lovers)
Your Fonder Heart (w/ Anne Heaton)

The Shepherd’s Song (solo)
Old-Fashioned Hat (solo)
Before the Eyes of Storytelling Girls (solo)
When You Fall
Every Day a Dying Day (?)
Cosmic American
King Willy
Nothing Gonna Stop Me Now (?)
(a cappella Arabic folk song) (solo)

Maybe It’s Peace
Momma to You (w/ Anais Mitchell)
Megan and Kevin

Anais Mitchell, Jefferson Hamer and Anne Heaton
Anais Mitchell, Jefferson Hamer and Anne Heaton

Anais Mitchell and Anne Heaton
Anais Mitchell and Anne Heaton

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