I had yet to see Brandi Carlile live. I always heard she was great, but then I would hear that from die-hard fans, so I wasn’t sure how fair of an assessment it was. On Monday night, I saw two things for sure — she was, at the very least, solid; and, the enthusiasm of her Dallas fans is equivalent to that of Adam Lambert’s. Do they have their own name like the Glamberts?
What’s interesting about Carlile is her quiet rise to stardom. She’s not a household name, but she can sell out the Granada. When the lights went out, the venue throbbed with yells and screams as the show began with her drummer, Allison Miller, killing everyone with a heavy drum solo. She should be worshiped as a drumming goddess. Carlile hadn’t even come out and the crowd was frenzied. Usually I take earplugs for the band. I should have taken them for the crowds’ roaring.
Carlile and the band rolled out, began playing and at that point, the largely female audience was putty in her hands. Carlile is more petite than she appears in pictures and she came out in a vest which seems to be her signature piece. Oh, that vest. But her voice is large and one of the best out there. Like the love child of Melissa Etheridge and Sarah MacLachlan, Carlile had both grit and grace in her range. Her high notes are magic and everything under is finely textured — as was her performance.
While there wasn’t a lot of showmanship behind her, there was a whole lotta heart. “The Story” and “Again Today” were not only highlights of the show, but she poured into them nicely as she did with her other standards and TV drama staples. Although her completely unplugged version of “Dying Day” was rather a show-offy moment that wasn’t overly necessary, her intentions were good and her singing projected to the back reaches of the venue. She busted out a few new songs which hint at Carlile heading into a harder-rocking direction. I don’t know if she’s going away from her torch singing, emotive usual stuff, but this was a Carlile I liked. Some of the audience did not and took it as an opp to get a bathroom or bar break.
What appealed most was her genuine warmth to the audience. She talked about waiting to play the Granada and seemed genuinely surprised by the large reception of her Dallas fans. At one point, she went on this tangent about her appreciation of heroes Tammy Wynette and Patsy Cline. Maybe I didn’t catch all of it but it just felt kind of rambling and I wasn’t getting her point. It was all leading up to her version of “Crazy.” As beautiful as Carlile’s voice is, it didn’t quite match to the tenderness of the song or Patsy Cline. I just didn’t buy it.
As for the rest of the show, Carlile knew how to make the night a worthwhile one. And props to the sound guys for making everyone in that band sound crystal clear. The Hanseroth twins’ guitars were pristine, the drums and bass offered the right amount of heavy and light rhythms and the cello was a dream.
Preston Jones of DFW.com posted the below footage from Monday night with his review here.