LIVE SHOT: Shocked in tremendously rare form

Posted on 25 Apr 2008 at 10:37am

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Michelle Shocked’s audience is indeed ever shrinking — which is bad for her, but awesome for people who still know she’s incredible musician and live entertainer. Her 300-seat venue at the House of Blues’ Cambridge Room barely had 100 people inside. And most of them were Shocked’s relatives.
With the brilliant multi-instrumentalist Rich Armstrong accompanying Shocked, she delivered a rollercoaster ride of a performance. The beginning of the set was so emotionally raw it would have raised Janice Joplin’s hackles.
Shocked began with a wailing version of “When I Grow Up,” which Kaiser Permanente currently wants to use for a commercial about breast exams. Shocked is thinking about the offer, but wants the company to give her health insurance.
Early into the set, she got her pastoral Lone Star State shoutouts out of the way — “Memories of East Texas” and “Anchorage.” And in between, she got on her rebel soapbox, issuing left-leaning opinions about guns, war, Bush and the impending recession.
From there, it became a kooky, heartfelt family reunion. Shocked’s mom played autoharp (mother and daughter patched up their relationship after 25 rocky years), her dad on mandolin, a nephew on shaker percussion. And then Shocked welcomed her 85-year-old grandma onstage to dance with her Asian dancing partner.
Strangely, the set was not as gospel-themed as anticipated. It was more like a homecoming gig. And the tiny number of ticket buyers who attended were so close to Shocked, it seemed like the audience was sitting in her lap. michelle-2.jpg

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