Thursday night’s concert offerings in Grand Rapids boasted fan-pleasing shows by an acclaimed singer, a revered guitarist, and Colorado and U.K. indie-rock faves. Recaps, photos at Local Spins.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Some concert nights are just special — not necessarily for their superstar tour stops, but for the vintage nature of the music created by the performers on stage. Thursday night in Grand Rapids was one of those nights. Check out the Local Spins recap/photos from three concerts at three different venues.
LEE ANN WOMACK BRINGS AMERICANA FLAIR TO ST. CECILIA
As singer Lee Ann Womack put it during her tour stop Thursday at Grand Rapids’ St. Cecilia Music Center: “Nothing makes me happier than a sad country song.”
Womack and her cracker-jack, five-piece band unfurled a heap of sad country songs with an Americana flair for the opening concert of the 2019-2020 Acoustic Café Folk Series.
“As they say in Nashville,” she quipped later, “it ain’t country music until somebody dies.”
Focusing much of the show on her most recent albums, 2017’s “The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone,” and 2014’s “The Way I’m Livin’,” Womack’s potent voice with an unmistakable and authentic east Texas twang delivered classic country tales for the modest audience of about 400.
The highlight came with a hair-raising rendition of “All The Troubles” from “The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone,” a gritty, melancholy gem enhanced by a swampy guitar.
That was followed by an engaging acoustic segment, with Womack and the band huddled around a single microphone for harmony-laden version of timeless classics such as “I Am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger” and “Oh Lonesome Me.”
If Americana can be described as elegant, Womack’s straightforward set was certainly that: sumptuous, vintage country without extraneous frills or pop baubles. – John Sinkevics
PHOTO GALLERY: Lee Ann Womack at St. Cecilia Music Center
Photos by Jeff Wilkinson
FANS EMBRACE STEVE HACKETT’S TAKE ON ‘SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND’
Guitar maestro Steve Hackett led his band through a set of musical adventures and a time warp at 20 Monroe Live on Thursday, performing tracks from 2018 while reaching back 45 years to his time with Genesis as well.
The capacity crowd cheered every song, though the music of Hackett’s former band elicited the greatest response.
First off, however, it was Hackett’s solo material, leading off with the popular “Every Day,” the opening cut on his third recording, “Spectral Mornings.” He’s celebrating that album’s 40th anniversary, and much of the first set was drawn from it.
Hackett also made sure to nod to the more recent past, with tracks from last year’s “At the Edge of Light,” including the majestic “Fallen Walls and Pedestals.” Here multi-instrumentalist Rob Townsend hauled out the tenor sax before switching back to soprano, backing Hackett’s intricate, roaring guitar.
Following intermission, the band reappeared to dive deeper into Hackett’s storied past, showcasing Genesis’ “Selling England by the Pound, often cited as the band’s best album, or at least the best before the group switched gears and became a pop-rock juggernaut.
So, Hackett’s performance of the album in its entirety was a must-see for those fans.
Vocalist Nad Sylvan sang all the leads once performed by Gabriel before Phil Collins took over. He wasn’t alone, however – numerous audience members knew the material by heart and joined in.
With more than three dozen albums over the course of his solo career, and guest appearances on several other recordings, Hackett has no need to revisit the recordings of Genesis. But it’s clear he enjoys that music, as do the fans. And unlike tribute bands such as The Musical Box, he’s not seeking to recreate the music of his former band note for note.
It’s more akin to the Security Project, a band started by former Peter Gabriel drummer Jerry Marotta that performs Gabriel’s music as repertory, taking liberties as it deems prudent.
By the time of “The Cinema Show,” with its witty lyrics and extended keyboard break, the audience was hoarse from cheering.
Roger King’s recreation of Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks’ synth and mellotron sounds was spot on. And while the band could well have claimed exhaustion at that point from the nearly three-hour show, it instead played yet another ringer, “Dance on a Volcano” from “A Trick of the Tail.”
“Los Endos” in the encore left the crowd happy and fulfilled. – Ross Boissoneau
PHOTO GALLERY: Steve Hackett at 20 Monroe Live
Photos by Jamie Geysbeek
DEVOTCHKA, THE JOY FORMIDABLE DOUBLE UP AT THE PYRAMID SCHEME
PopMatters described the most recent studio album from Colorado’s Devotchka, “This Night Fall Forever,” as cinematic, pristine and just “great indie-rock.”
The U.K.’s Joy Formidable, meanwhile, earned uber high praise from Glide Magazine, which called its 2018 release, “AAARTH,” as “an aggressive collection of pulse-pounding hard rock that deftly combines raw power with melodic hooks.”
Both bands combined forces for a Thursday night tour stop at The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids,with about 300 fans on hand.
“It was a really good show,” said fan Jeff Sluiter, who won tickets to the concert from Local Spins, adding that The Joy Formidable played a “stripped-down set” as part of the tour stop in front of a “great crowd.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Devotchka, The Joy Formidable at The Pyramid Scheme
Photos by Katy Batdorff