Power of Two Thousand

Indigo Girls - Rosemont Theatre

November 16, 1997

First Appeared in The Music Box, January 1998, Volume 5, #1

Written by John Metzger

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The Indigo Girls hit the Rosemont Theatre near Chicago for a pair of performances, the first of which was sold out.  Not surprisingly, the ensemble attracted a terrific audience that sang along with every song from the well-known Closer to Fine to several cuts from the band's latest album Shaming of the Sun.  At times, the duo just let the audience carry the tune to amazing effect. Even more incredible was when Emily Saliers performed a solo rendition of Leeds, accompanying herself on keyboard. It was a hauntingly beautiful version, made all the more sweet as the audience provided the backing vocals straight from its recorded counterpart.

Except for Saliers' solo performance, the rest of the evening found the duo joined by drummer and mandolinist Jerry Marotta and bassist Sara Lee. All evening long, Saliers floated between banjo, electric and acoustic guitars, while Amy Ray played both acoustic guitar and mandolin.  These two are talented singers, songwriters, and musicians and have improved remarkably over the past few years. Their songs have gained an added punch, and Saliers excursion into banjo for Shame on You and Get Out the Map seems to have influenced her guitar playing and made it even better.

Still, it was Ray's Scooter Boys that stole the evening. This song was the Indigo Girls' biggest departure from the familiar, album versions of its songs, and it suited the duo quite well. Saliers ripped through searing guitar chords while Lee and Marotta conjured up a swirling backbeat much like Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Ray carried the song with a gruff vocal style before it blasted into a space-filled blues groove combined with a spoken word piece.

Yet, the Indigo Girls also managed to turn in outstanding versions of its mellower songs, with delicate readings of Least Complicated, Power of Two, and Don't Give that Girl a Gun. The duo's voices complement each other perfectly and blend much like Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel once did. The audience replied enthusiastically and would have stood through the entire show had it not been for a select few rather vocal people who confused a concert hall with their living room.

Kelly Hogan, an old friend of the band, took the stage to sing Kris Kristofferson's hit Help Me Make It Through the Night. At any other show, the audience would have been totally lost when faced with a relatively unknown singer and such a mellow song. But at this concert, the audience was along for the ride as Hogan briefly stole the show with a tender vocal style and a soft country twang.

Danielle Howle and The Tantrums opened the show with a Southern blend of rock, alternative, blues, and jazz. Hailing from Columbia, South Carolina, the group records for Ray's own record label. Often recording on a headlining band's label can yield some great opportunities for ensembles that don't deserve it, but that was not the case with Howle who turned in a very enjoyable set.

Shaming of the Sun is available from Barnes & Noble.
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Copyright 1997 The Music Box