Sunday, February 18, 2007

Finally: Review of Gen in AZ

Hi everyone...finally found my notes from the Paisley Violin show from a month ago. Some of it is illegible after a trip through Ye Olde' Washing Machine, but I'll do my best:

I got a chance to catch Genevieve at Phoenix's "Paisley Violin" on folk music night (lets change that to last month...) Wanted to get the review up before I'm crashing on her sofa so that I'm not accused of being bribed for a good review. (Wow, I lost these notes that long ago?)

Its certainly a different experience to see Genevieve playing without a backup band, just Gen and a keyboard. Also, all of the songs were new except for one, "So Good For Me", so it was like a completely different act. The microphone had a small echo which sometimes made her conversations with the audience a little hard to hear. Anyway, it was a different show with different songs and a different style.

First up was "Empty," which took three starts to get going while playing with the levels, but ended up being a quality song. The rest of my notes on this song are lost to history.

Up next, an LA themed song "City of Lost Angels," which followed a somewhat familiar theme of people looking for their place in the world. Unlike some of the songs on Life, this song was a bit more somber, which worked well with the "one woman and a keyboard" show.

Sandwiched between two more somber songs was "Tribute to the Bayou." The Bayou was a college hangout for Gen and friends in college by Georgetown in Washington, D.C. The Bayou sounds like a pretty cool place, but of course the song is about more than just a DC hangout...its about all fun times that youth, a sense of freedom, and a love of music can bring. This is a strong song, and was a good change of pace.

But the change was not to last, as up next was a cover of the Beattle's last hit, "Let it Be." Of course, Gen is a much stronger singer than any of the Beatles, and the song was strong. As soon as I figure out how to do a poll on this blog, we'll have one for "what song should she cover next." I vote for "The One I Love."

Up next was a Gen standard, "So Good for Me." Being so familiar with the full band version of this song, its impossible for me to write anything about this without comparing it. It would be like writing the paragraph on "Let it Be" without mentioning that Boy Band from Britain. Personally, I like the full band version a little better, but that’s not to say that there aren't some parts of the song better with just her voice and keyboard. For example, I thought some of the lines, particularly the way she asks, "How can I not give in?", have even more strength when not competing with the instruments. Over all, still a great song, and she still gives a great rendition of it.

Closing the show, we have another new song. This time I could clearly hear her story behind the song. Tired of people that want the world to be a better place and not do anything about it, this song is written to the Silent Majority, encouraging them to speak out and do something to make the world a cooler place. If you're "waiting for the world to change," you're going to be disappointed. To hear the song, visit Gen's page on myspace (link on the right).

Its at this point that I run out of paper on Gen's set list so I can't really review the song at all. Good thing that a) its available online and b) this is the last song in her set.

Now, a few words on the performers that went before and after Gen. We didn't stay for the whole show because we were worn out after our first day on vacation. Before Gen went a local singer/songwriter named Michael Mattingly. Michael's songs were solid, though his voice and musical style resembled more Bare Naked Ladies than Arlo Guthrie. That being said, the Dylan-esque mouth-harp holder and one-man guitar act were charming. Most songs were about love-lost in some way either literally, like in So Long, a story about young, long distance love that ended tragically or "Change My Mind" or a more typical modern break up song. Michael was pretty good, and clearly trying to expand his act including the harmonica, which he had just learned in the past couple of weeks, and sitting in on a couple of Gen's songs on a bongo drum.

We left Cameo Hill's act about halfway through, which had nothing to do with the quality of the performance. Cameo seemed more in the Ani DiFranco vein, a skilled guitarist and lyricist who chatted and interacted with her audience. I wish we had gotten to see a little more of her.