Regardless of whether Brandi Carlile was behind the piano, hitting the drums or performing center stage with her guitar, she dazzled in an elemental way.
Review and photos by Danielle Boise
In true troubadour style, Bhi Bhiman started the night off with an acoustic set of songs saturated in a folksy bluesy flair, dripping in Americana principals; by performing songs off his self-titled album, which included “Ballerina,” “Kimchee Line,” “Eye On You,” “Crime of Passion” and ending the night with “Guttersnipe.” Bhiman feels like a cross between Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie with a side of cheekiness thrown in for good measure.
For more information on Bhi Bhiman or to see where he will be performing next, visit www.bhibhiman.com.
On a hot and steamy night in Atlanta, Josh Ritter and his retro stylist band took the stage at Chastain with nothing but a smile on his face– a smile that didn’t leave the entire set. Ritter and company enthusiastically enjoyed performing together with a bit of a ragtime feel to Ritter’s musical escapades. Ritter’s style feels more like pages from a diary written to melodies, as his music is very much thematically driven stories with musical jaunts filled with melodic notes to upbeat parables; it’s a little bit off-beat and quirky, but that’s what makes it a treasure.
Ritter performed “Monster Ballads,” “Good Man,” “Rumors,” “Locks” and “Right Moves” before going into “The Curse,” which is a darkly romantic song with such beautiful depth with a little Parisian flare interspersed throughout the melody as the bass, keyboard and piano combine with the softness of Ritter’s voice.
But, it was “Girl in the War” that brought the house down. “This is for the folks in Aurora,” Ritter dedicated to the grief stricken town after the recent massacre with a solo stripped down version of “Girl in the War,” which was not only hauntingly striking but also potentiate.
After finishing “Girl,” the rest of the band returned to the stage, along with a more upbeat set of tunes. Ritter continued the rest of the set with “Wolves,” “Change of Time,” “Kathleen” and he finished the night with “To the Dogs or Whatever.”
Ritter ended the night by humbly thanking the audience, “Thank you for being great to us tonight. We don’t take it for granted being here, so thank you.”
For more information on Josh Ritter or to see where he will be performing next, visit www.joshritter.com.
Brandi Carlile ushered in the night with an amazing show of lights that filled Chastain Park Amphitheatre with stunning awe. Carlile has a very symbiotic relationship with the city Atlanta; both the city and Carlile fiercely adore each other.
Just a little back story on Brandi Carlile: she and her band have been performing together for 10 years now; they have just finished their fourth studio album, Bear Creek, on Columbia records, about which Carlile stated, “I didn’t adhere to any genres or labels on this record. I remember growing up and thinking Johnny Cash was as Rock-N-Roll as it gets.” Carlile explained how the sound doesn’t truly fall into any sort of category, rather the album as a whole is about not being pigeonholed within the confound of a label, but more about the quality of the work.
It’s not about labels, limitations, or genres on Brandi Carlile’s Bear Creek; it’s only about good music that draws from a multitude of musical styles from folksy country to rock. It’s all about making and creating good music, and that’s exactly what Carlile does and does it extremely well on Bear Creek.
“This has been a tour of a lifetime, (pause) with the Bear Creek Tour.” – Brandi Carlile
Out on tour to support Carlile’s latest effort, she played tracks off Bear Creek, along with her hits and a few covers to a full house with a gorgeous, rich full sound that echoed at Chastain Park Amphitheatre Friday July 27. Regardless of whether Brandi Carlile was behind the piano, hitting the drums or performing center stage with her guitar, she dazzled in an elemental way as she performed her genre-less songs that were just purely driven notes and words coming together in blissful harmony. Carlile mentioned that after her symphony record she did in 2011 that she couldn’t imagine living without strings again, which rounded out the sound with a grandiose reverb.
Carlile performed with vigor “Raise Hell,” “Dreams,” “What Can I Say,” and “Before It Breaks.” “We’re going to play something out of our comfort zone,” as she intro “100” with a ragtime sound to the song as the entire band collapsed around Carlile in a half circle in the center of the stage for a set of songs by starting off the set with “100,” which happened to be Carlile’s favorite song off of her album Give Up The Ghost, followed by performing the sweet song “Caroline.”
“This is a weird little song off of Bear Creek for me,” Carlile said. “It’s all about the stories; the kind of country music that inspired me to write music in the first place,” Carlile continued as she introduced “Heart Young,” followed by “Save Park of Yourself.”
It was Carlile’s stripped down solo performance of “Looking Out” that left the crowd in awe; with just her voice and guitar in a gut-wrenching sort of way as she sang “I know the darkness is pulling on you, but it’s just your point of view,” this verse resonated in the Amphitheatre in a way that touched deep down into the soul and brought tears to my eyes with such a touching rendition of the song.
“Thank you, this is a really great night for us. We’ve been playing in Atlanta a very long time. It all started at Eddie’s Attic (to a roar of applause bursting in the crowd), then Playhouse, Roxy which now I believe is the Fox. We opened at this venue for Train and then again recently for The Avett Brothers. This is one of the five venues in the country that I wanted to headline at. There is something magical about when the sunset sets and twilight comes, then going on stage” Carlile shared with the crowd.
Carlile brought Josh Ritter back out on the stage to sing a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Sunday Morning,” in which the duet had undeniable chemistry together as they performed the song. “I’ve given up tequila and I’ve given up Chic-Fil-A” declared Carlile with an eruption of spontaneous outbursts of joy, cheers and applause, in response to the recent Chic-Fil-A controversy.
Carlile followed that up with a cover of Queen’s epic anthem “Bohemian Rhapsody” in a truly powerful way as she started it off by stripping it down to the bare bones with her at the piano and then progressive increased the grandness of the piece until the whole band was rocking it out.
“Turpentine,” “Dying Day,” and “The Story” rounded out the regular set before Carlile re-entered the stage as the entire Amphitheatre was chanting “more, more, more.” Carlile finished the evening by playing “Oh! Darling,” “Pride and Joy,” and ending the evening with “Wasn’t Me.”
Brandi Carlile is definitely worth seeing live, if nothing more than to see a truly talented and passionate musician up on stage honing her craft. With Carlile it really is all about the music, in any genre as she creates a glorious sound filled with so much emotion; as she crafts a wondrous musical narrative on life’s journey about love, loss and about life’s passionate course forward.
For more information on Brandi Carlile, visit www.brandicarlile.com.