Venue: McCaw Hall Seattle, WA
Date: November 5, 2006
Opener: Bitch and the Exciting Conclusion
Bitch and the Exciting ConclusionThe Indigo Girls are back, and this time they brought a band. Most notable about this evenings show, however, is the fact that the famously nice folk-pop duo is appearing on Seattle Operas home turf. Its not every day when folksingers perform in opera houses, and you can almost feel Verdi turn over in his grave when New York City-based Bitch hits the stage.
The handful of concertgoers at this show who recognize Bitch, came to appreciate her through her work with the bawdy, eggsy folk-punk theatrical work she did as one half of the ubiquitous former duo Bitch & Animal.
With that project well in her past by now, Bitch has been touring the country, first solo, then with back-up players The Exciting Conclusion, who join her tonight. Bitch is a natural performer from the hey-look-at-me school of performance, although, beneath the tidal wave dramatics with which she overzealously occupies the Opera Houses giant stage, there is a rather adept artist at work.
For the first hour of the evening, Bitch and her band careen through work from her new album, Make This, Break This: slam-style poetics and punk-spirited activist folk tunes, love songs, and self-deprecating numbers. As much as her work was ably backed by the schizophrenic percussion of her former band mate Animal, Bitchs more recent work is complemented far more deeply with the presence of a percussionist and keyboardist/Mac user.
Its not long into Bitchs set before its clear an audience is either bound to love or hate the nights opening act. However, with just two days until midterm elections in this staunch blue state, Bitch manages to unwind the audiences thick political anticipation with biting protest songs like Dare Me to Rise, touting lines like George Bush is as evil as Saddam / It takes one / to know one.
Indigo GirlsThe Indigo Girls were just here in Seattle a couple of months ago, but that was well before the release of their 16th record to date, Despite Our Differences. With this CD now under their belt, along with a new record company in their camp, the Girls make no mistake tonight: theyre here to rock the heck out.
In their usual formation (every time Ive seen them perform, Emily Saliers always stands on stage left, Amy Ray on stage right), they are backed for this tour by bass, drums, percussion and keys. The extra voices fill out their contrapuntal harmonies so largely, even Verdi would be proud.
They kick their set off with a couple of tunes from the new albumLittle Perennials, Pendulum Swingerbut waste no time turning to their older, more tried and true material. Poetry in Motion is even pulled out from relative obscurity, complete with a somewhat inaudible accordion in the background.
With the dynamic in the room and the stage already set by Bitch for a night of activist folk music, Amy Ray is on fire. Jumping and cavorting around the stage, her dancing feets faster than James Brown, while her musical partner Saliers comes across a little more reserved.
Both girls leave the stage at several intervals to allow one another to perform a song solo. When the soloist is Ray, she opts for strong, fierce rocking tunesthe songs that turn your gutwhereas Saliers plays the songs that turn your heart.
The band leaves the stage, and the Indigo Girls play Dairy Queen, with Emily on mandolin and Amy on harmonica. At one point, everyone leaves the stage and lesbian folk icon Ferron makes an appearance, performing once with Saliers backing her, and once by herself.
Naturally, the night cant end without a community effort performance of what has, unquestionably, been the groups biggest hit to datea song that recently even made an appearance on the hit TV show The Office. For the finale of Closer to Fine, the girls are joined by Ferron, Bitch, and an enthusiastic, extraordinarily grateful, happy audience.