Thirty-one year old Brandi Carlile has been performing since she was a child, and that experience really came through during last night’s show at the House of Blues, where Carlile and her band displayed some terrific, old-fashioned showmanship. Throughout the 90-minute concert, the singer-guitarist casually bantered with the capacity crowd, telling the background story behind many of the 17 songs she played. Backed by a fine six-piece band that included longtime collaborators Tim and Phil Hanseroth, she alternated between hushed folk rock, alt-country, and straight-up rock ’n’ roll.
Mid-way through the 90-minute set, she and her band unplugged for three songs to play the songs, as Carlile explained, just the way they were recorded in the studio for her new album Bear Creek. “How do you like my ragtime band?” she asked at the end of the segment. She then switched gears entirely as she sat behind the piano and jokingly said “I’m going to do something outrageous” as she belted out a few riffs from Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” before launching into a rousing rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” that she delivered in true rock glory, strobe lights and all. And yes, she certainly had the pipes to do the song justice. She closed the set with a hard rocking rendition of “The Story,” the closest thing she’s had to a hit. Clearly impressed with the crowd’s enthusiasm, which she acknowledged throughout the show (and afterwards with a Facebook post), she returned for a three-song encore ended with the acoustic “That Year,” a poignant song about suicide that she dedicated to a teenage friend who killed himself.
Singer-songwriter Chris Koza opened with a solo acoustic set that showcased his strong vocals and sharp songwriting skills.