Tag Archives: Rachel Cox

cat_reviews

Conor Oberst Doesn’t Disappoint

November 26th, 2012

Conor Oberst – Carnegie Hall – November 21, 2012


Outside Carnegie Hall last Wednesday, scalpers were offering tickets for Bright Eyes the night before Thanksgiving. What the what? Bright Eyes at Carnegie Hall? ’Twas true, as one Conor Oberst headlined a sold-out Stern Auditorium. From musical wunderkind to revered label chief, the 32-year-old’s long career was on full display in the famed hall’s confines. Covering material largely from his band, Bright Eyes, Oberst was dressed to the nines with a Calla lily boutonniere adorning his breast pocket and began his set solo with “The Big Picture.” Crooning the last line of the song from Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground, his vocals reverberated throughout the hall.

Joined by multi-instrumentalist Ben Brodin, Oberst introduced new material early on with “Common Knowledge.” Getting comfortable, he joked that it was great to kick back in a venue that reminded him of shows back in his hometown of Omaha, Neb. Adding more company on the vast stage, Oberst called upon Rachel Cox to accompany him on “Classic Cars,” and long-term Bright Eyes member, Nate Walcott, sneaked onstage unbeknownst to Oberst until Walcott seated himself with trumpet in hand for “Southern State.” The number was thoroughly enhanced with classical keys from the black Steinway, which was one of the most expected instruments at the hallowed venue. Having played “At the Bottom of Everything” in 2004 for the Tibet House Benefit Concert, Oberst revealed it wasn’t his first time performing at Carnegie Hall.

Women play a big part in Oberst’s songwriting canon, which was also the case with “You Are Your Mother’s Child,” a new song. With James Felice on accordion, Oberst continued his female-inspired musings, playing “Ten Women,” a song he described as being careful what you wish for. The oldie “Laura Laurent” was a fan favorite, although its material sadly chronicles Oberst’s struggles with his depression-stricken ex. Not to enshroud the setting with too much emo, he picked up the tempo, dedicating the Monsters of Folk ditty “Map of the World” to fellow Bright Eyes member Mike Mogis, who was absent for the night. Oberst rocked out as his long locks whipped with every guitar strum. Not to leave fans wanting more, his encore included “Lua,” with Cox filling in for Gillian Welch, “Make War,” and the Felice Brothers crew on “Waste of Paint,” leaving no one disappointed as they exited the lush, grand venue. —Sharlene Chiu

cat_preview

Such a Night

May 14th, 2012

M. Ward – Webster Hall – May 11, 2012


It felt like summer had just arrived in New York City on a warm Friday night. Things were even hotter inside sold-out Webster Hall when M. Ward descended on to the stage as the “Post-War” interlude slowly grooved. Those in the crowd cheered as he dug into the older album Post-War, early into the show, and then sang along to “Poison Cup” and “Chinese Translation.” Ward was packing oldies but goodies to please longtime followers (pre–She & Him). He even delved deeper into his catalog, touching upon “Fuel for Fire” from Transistor Radio. Although the singer-songwriter let his tunes speak for him most of the show, Ward confessed, “It’s still early in the night, but you’re my favorites.”

Upon cheers he sang, “New York, I’m falling into a deep, deep depression.” But those lyrics from “Pure Joy,” the last track on his latest, A Wasteland Companion, were the opposite of what he was feeling. Chris Scruggs added the melodic reverb of the lap steel on “Clean Slate,” another off his latest. Ward’s twangier rendition of “Magic Trick” had quite a few couples dancing. And he treated the audience to a few covers, like John Fahey’s “Bean Vine Blues, No. 2,” Buddy Holly’s “Rave On,” which appears on his last record, Hold Time, and Daniel Johnston’s “To Go Home.”

Rachel Cox provided backing vocals for “I Get Ideas,” and also stepped in for Zooey Deschanel on the rollicking Budweiser-selling “Never Had Nobody Like You.” There was no doubt there would be an encore and Ward sure didn’t disappoint. He unveiled a sweet take on “Such a Night,” made famous by Elvis Presley, followed by a floor-shaking cover of Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven.” The latter was a special Record Store Day–release B-side. While the longtime live favorite would have been enough, Ward brought out one of his Monsters of Folk cohorts, Conor Oberst, to end the night with “Vincent O’Brien.” —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Mina K