Brandi Carlile | 05.22.07

live_carlileThe singer/songwriter brought down the house with hyperkinetic versions of "Closer to You" and "My Song," prompting Carlile to quip, "I always forget when I come to this part of the country and get up here and start stomping around that the air is thin and all."

 

 

 

 

Fox Theatre, Boulder

Brandi Carlile best summed up her success halfway through her Boulder show. "The first time I was here, we had a seated audience here," she says, pointing to the pit area in front of the stage capable of holding, at best, 150 to 200 people standing. "This whole area was filled with fold-up chairs with very generous aisles in between and we still didn't have all the seats filled. And now…" Carlile acknowledges with a wave of hand her sold-out, standing-room-only show at Boulder's Fox Theatre. "Well, I thank you."

Carlile rollicked through her opening number: a cover of Dylan's "The Times They Are a-Changin," an apropos song considering the rural Washington native's fleeting evolution since her self-titled Columbia debut found her on Rolling Stone's Top Ten List of "Artists to Watch" in 2005. Here we are over two years later and RS's prediction has more than paid its dividend with songs such as "Late Morning Lullaby" and "Turpentine" from her latest disc The Story; tracks so deftly acute and accurate that they probably would earn Carlile the high school superlative nomination "most likely to be Carole King."

The singer/songwriter and fellow longtime writing and performing partners, guitarist Tim and bassist Phil Hanseroth (affectionately known as the "Twins"), brought down the house with hyperkinetic versions of "Closer to You" and "My Song" (which showcased now full-time drummer Matt Chamberlain's heavy-handed brush work), prompting Carlile to quip, "I always forget when I come to this part of the country and get up here and start stomping around that the air is thin and all," before strumming "Closer" in a semisonic cover of the Beatles "I've Just Seen a Face."

Carlile and Co. blazed through pages off her self-titled 2005 debut and 2007's The Story: the soft-spoken pseudo-acapella "Josephine," "Follow," and "Throw It All Away," which featured touring cellist Josh Neuman. The set was ripe with a teasing handful of covers: the aforementioned Beatles and Dylan tunes, as well as Radiohead's "Creep" (forcing Carlile to confess that she didn't want to overdose the crowd on covers but felt the house vibe was right for it). Carlile slammed into the encore of her 95 minutes with Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues," which tipped the Richter scale gauging that with Carlile's runaway success, shows at quaint and unassuming theaters such as the Fox will be a rare occurrence in her future.

But the flash point of the evening was the disc's lead single "The Story"—a song so palpable and genuine it could only have been honed and fine-tuned on the road. Brimming with a southern twang and vulnerable emotion, "The Story" has been a Carlile staple since her early tours in pre-debut 2005. A well-balanced track both live and on-disc, Carlile belts out its chorus with such passion that it's trumped only by her switch to electric guitar halfway through the song, blurring the boundary between ballad and blues just as Dylan did when he went electric at Newport. | Brian Kenney

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