Tag Archives: Carnegie Hall

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A Willie Watson and Colter Wall Sing-Along at Rough Trade NYC

October 26th, 2017

Willie Watson and Colter Hall – Rough Trade NYC – October 25, 2017


Sometimes at a concert you get a real feel for what things were like back when. Sometimes it’s because of the room: Walk into Carnegie Hall or Village Vanguard and you are transported back through decades of New York City live-music history. Other times it’s the performers themselves who seem to transport you back to a past heyday. Last night at Rough Trade NYC featured two such performers who transported the crowd back in time, evoking a country and folk music of another era as if it were brand-new today.

Colter Wall is a Canadian singer from Saskatchewan who evokes a country music of a time gone by. He began his set solo, with just enough croak in his vintage voice and acoustic guitar, singing, “If I’m being truthful, I only live at night” and covering Woody Guthrie’s “Do Re Mi” like he’d written it on his way from Canada. He was joined by a band—mandolin, dobro, bass—and continued to mix old-school covers by Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Hank Williams with originals from his self-titled debut that evoked the same spirit with a little updating along the way. A cover of Blaze Foley’s “Oval Room,” perfectly fit into the set and had the crowd whooping and hollering. Audiences will clap or sing along and this one did that aplenty, but the stomp along is a bit rarer and felt natural at several points during Wall’s performance—you could imagine yourself back when in a barn somewhere hearing murder ballads like his “Kate McCannon” and stomping along.

Willie Watson has a voice and a love for folk music and, let’s face it, a name that makes it easy to imagine sitting around a campfire or revival tent hearing gospel numbers and old-timey songs mixed with storytelling and off-center humor. He opened with “Take This Hammer,” his voice infused with a slight warble as he stretched out syllables, letting them fill the room. “If you know this one, sing along” seemed to be implied from the start of his set, and the crowd joined in as he worked his way through a musical time warp. Watson has been playing and touring and recording these old folk songs for years—his new album is simply and aptly titled Folk Singer Vol. 2—and he sings them possessed of their original spirit. Tunes like “Samson and Delilah,” “Gallows Pole” and “Midnight Special” in their original form before they were turned into modern-day rock songs were stripped to their original bare essence in Watson’s hands. Switching between guitar and banjo (giving the audience what he referred to as a proper dose of “vitamin B”), the set was both raucous and poignant. Like any good folk show, there were sing-alongs, like “Stewball,” and murder ballads, like “Frankie and Johnny,” and, of course, songs about the feats of John Henry. Through them all, Watson’s love for the music and performing it shined through, taking the audience to way back when for just one night. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

(Tonight’s Willie Watson and Colter Hall show at Mercury Lounge is sold out.)       

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Benjamin Clementine Proves How He Got to Carnegie Hall on Thursday

October 6th, 2017

Benjamin Clementine – Carnegie Hall – October 6, 2017


How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice—but for Benjamin Clementine it was more than just that. The British singer, poet and artist grew up in London before moving to Paris as a homeless teenager. While spending a considerable amount of time there busking on streets, he immersed himself in the French music and art scenes. His talents did not go unnoticed, eventually garnering a joint license contract with Virgin EMI, Capitol and Barclay. On the heels of the release of his sophomore album, I Tell a Fly, Clementine graced the hallowed stage of Carnegie Hall on Thursday, donning a fitted metallic suit. He and his accompanying band dressed in blue jumpsuits, ambling barefoot in circuitous routes around the sparse stage.

Clementine’s guttural opening of “God Save the Jungle” had the audience cheering from the start, and he followed that with the theatrically orchestrated “Phantom of Aleppoville.” Between songs, the meditative walking continued as the statuesque singer roamed between the guitarist and drummer platforms. Cellist Barbara le Liepvre was draped in an American flag during “Jupiter,” as Clementine sang, “Wishing Americana happy/ Wishing Americana free/ Ben’s an alien passing by/ Wishing everyone be.” The piece felt more like an art performance, and the band’s participation did not end there. The group linked hands on “Quintessence” as they rounded the stage.

There was no piano when the set began, but that was remedied during the encore as one was wheeled out. The best was truly saved for last, in fan favorites “Cornerstone” and “Adios,” but it was the Clementine-commanded sing-along on “Condolence” that unified the evening. Granting his request for the stage lights to go dim, Clementine led the room in a collective chorus of “I’m sending my condolence/ I’m sending my condolence to fear.” On an eve of a full moon, the night concluded with “I Won’t Complain,” which was the perfect review. —Sharlene Chiu

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Simply Magnificent

November 27th, 2012

Ray LaMontagne – Carnegie Hall – November 26, 2012


It’s impossible to define who Ray LaMontagne is without mentioning his voice in the first sentence. It’s what makes his music so recognizable. It’s the first thing most listeners fall in love with, and it’s what makes his songs so wonderfully enchanting. It’s as though all the edges of his voice have been sandpapered down smooth. That all of his songs are expressed through this rustic and raspy singing voice somehow makes them sound all the sweeter, more sincere. It also fills a space like Carnegie Hall beautifully.

Performing for a sold-out audience in the biggest city in the country, LaMontagne started off things with “New York City’s Killing Me,” a folksy damning of the sometimes callousness of the giant city we call home. It was a perfect way to transition the audience from the noisy world outside Carnegie Hall into the hushed tenderness of LaMontagne’s music. With just an acoustic guitar and backing bassist, this tour marks the first time in a while that LaMontagne’s been without his band, the Pariah Dogs. The stripped-down versions of his songs, both old and new, allowed for the few elements holding together the music to fill the hall. Despite minimalist sound, the show swung to both sides of the dynamics spectrum: Quieter songs like “Sarah” sounded like they were sung as a whisper, like LaMontagne was letting in the audience on a delicate secret. The way such gentle songs contrasted to louder moments, like the pleas in “Trouble,” made such songs sound like the work of another artist entirely.

Last night’s show came with some surprises. LaMontagne played an unreleased song from his first record, Trouble, a self-described Western epic inspired by the late Townes Van Zandt’s “Poncho & Lefty.” For the second half, LaMontagne brought out a special guest, Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan, whose high harmonies floated majestically above LaMontagne’s own voice. Someone in the audience actually shouted “Freebird!” when LaMontagne stepped out for his encore, to which he responded while laughing: “In these hallowed halls some motherfucker yells ‘Freebird.’” He didn’t play the tune, but just about every other song of his was covered, and magnificently at that. —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of Jeremy Ross | jeremypross.com

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A Legend Says Goodbye in a Legendary Place

October 12th, 2012

Glen Campbell is a legend. Sure, he’s an icon of country music, which he began making almost 55 years ago, but in releasing more than 70 albums, he’s also covered a wide musical terrain, including folk, gospel and rock. He’s known for hits like “Gentle on My Mind,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Rhinestone Cowboy,” and he even found time to star alongside John Wayne in True Grit. And now after all those years on the road, Campbell (above, performing “Try a Little Kindness”) is on his Goodbye Tour. See him live one more time tomorrow night at Carnegie Hall.

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Preservation Hall Jazz Band – Carnegie Hall – January 7, 2012

January 9th, 2012


Photos courtesy of Michael Jurick | music.jurick.net

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Joanna Newsom – Carnegie Hall – November 23, 2010

November 24th, 2010

Joanna Newsom - Carnegie Hall - November 23, 2010

Photos courtesy of Mina K

The Courteeners – Mercury Lounge – March 17, 2009

March 18th, 2009

the-courteenersWith a simple “Hey, New York, good evening,” the Courteeners launched into a quick, energetic set last night at the Mercury Lounge. While the room was a fairly even male-female split, the ladies remained the vocal majority throughout—drunk, perhaps, on a combination of St. Patrick’s Day revelry and singer-guitarist Liam Fray’s smooth voice and considerable charm. Although they haven’t even played together for three full years, the Courteeners have a surprisingly polished sound.

The band, in the playful, creative space between releasing its debut album, St. Jude, and readying the next one, played to its strengths, much to the delight of the adoring crowd. Audience members sang along excitedly—and, at times, did all of the singing. And on songs like “Tear Me Apart” (a new one) and “Not Nineteen Forever,” enthusiastic concertgoers pogoed up and down happily. But it was the last song, a cover of fellow Mancunian band James’ “Tomorrow” that really whipped people into a frenzy. As the set came to a close, the warm room was filled with sweaty, smiling faces. And from the back of the room, a girl remarked, “It smells like English people in here.”

That English smell is sure to continue as these four lads from Manchester open for (noted Courteeners fan) Morrissey at The Bowery Ballroom on Saturday, March 21st, Webster Hall on Tuesday, March 25th and Carnegie Hall on Thursday, March 26th. —R. Zizmor