Concert Review: Haley Reinhart / Belle-Skinner @ Cohoes Music Hall, 03/24/2023
COHOES – Haley Reinhart sashayed into Cohoes Music Hall on her second to last stop of a six-month tour, bringing her sensual sound to an enthusiastic hall filled with fans. Juxtaposed with her opener, the sweet and smooth Belle Skinner who soothed me into our Friday night alone on her guitar, Reinhart opened with a wall of sound brought to listeners by a full band, complete with horns, keys and drum set.
Belle-Skinner deserves some recognition here for bringing a quiet and thoughtful vibe to the night, singing original songs (including my favorites of the night “With My Solitude” and “Siren Song,”) alongside covers of Joni Mitchell’s “River” and the French version of “I Can’t Help Falling In Love.”
Two weeks ago I compared Belle-Skinner’s soprano voice to a bird in a cathedral, and while I heard the same beauty on Friday night, I also noticed that Skinner is genuinely curious to learn more about the venues she performs in, the history of songs, and the musicians who performed them. She seems to learn as much as she can about these curiosities, and then share them with the audience in satisfying little bits of information. She charmed the audience with tales about Cohoes being the fourth oldest music hall in the country and played her french song without revealing the origin to allow listeners to experience their own peaked interest. The songbird’s pensive presence was delightfully interspersed with jokes about mermaids with commitment issues. Skinner has an expansive range while maintaining her guarded low volume and quieter stage presence.
After her quiet set, Reinhart’s entrance was noticeably big, loud, and playful. As she peaked out from the side alcove and sang to the audience, Reinhart’s presence as a seasoned entertainer shone as brightly as her sequin-strewn overcoat and dress.
If you aren’t familiar, Haley Reinhart was a stand-out star on Season 10 of American Idol and then moved onto amazing crowds with Post Modern Jukebox before headlining her own solo career. She sings cover songs with a purr, praising the audience with gratitude while stretching her fishnet-covered leg across to the stage from the side alcove without even a brief hesitation.
Reinhart has a great range, controlling her high notes with ease and growling into her lower range as she rolled through original songs “Off the Ground” and “Crack the Code.” The crowd was literally dancing in the historic seats, and she encouraged them to “hoot and holler all you want!” She fed on the energy of her fans, talking about seeing their beautiful faces and enjoying the interaction at the theatre.
Reinhart had learned from Belle-Skinner about the history of the theatre and added she hoped to run into the hall’s resident ghost Eva Tanguay. Admitting she was inspired by Etta James, Aretha Franklin, and Janis Joplin — “and my mom,” she grinned, she revealed these influences in her cover of “I Put A Spell On You.” Reinhart seemed to want to meet the vaudeville ghost so she could learn more from her.
Reinhart played with sexuality as she danced through “The Wind Cries Mary,” stepping back to celebrate her guitar player as he rocked through the set. Her covers were the best-received parts of the night, although I found “Honey, There’s The Door” (her original song) particularly entertaining. I also was very attracted to the energy of “Roll the Dice,” where she experimented with key changes reflecting a deeper skill set than her carefully crafted entertainer persona might initially reveal.
Crowd favorites were “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You,” for which she sat on the stage alone with the keyboardist and her encore performance of “Creep.” Both have been released and utilized in other settings, and the audience was clearly there to see those two songs.
From rhinestone sunglasses to a butterfly hair clasp, Reinhart shone on stage with joy. Reinhart has a beautiful voice, and it should be noted her songwriting is pretty remarkable. She’s attracted some attention, and we predict she’ll continue to do so with her exuberance and elation about sharing live music. And if you like costumes, her ensembles are pretty fun to watch her dance in, too.
Thank You for a wonderfully crafted article. I flew in from Chicago that afternoon just to hear & chat with Haley Reinhart for about the 100th time and meet some friends I’ve had for many years but never met. I’m an admin of a 5,500 member fan group “HALIENation” on Facebook. Please join. I have 5 Youtube videos posted from her Cohoes show under Himmm2.
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