Brandi Carlile At House Of Blues Anaheim

  • Brandi Carlile performs at the House of Blues Anaheim
    Photo: The Recording Academy

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By Erin Hanson
Anaheim, Calif.

On Aug. 10 I found myself in the middle of one of the most congenial crowds I have ever been a part of. Entering the intimate House of Blues Anaheim for Brandi Carlile's concert and leaving behind the commotion of Downtown Disney provided a true breath of fresh air, which accurately foreshadowed how the rest of the night would feel.

Seattle indie rock band Ivan & Alyosha kicked off the evening, energetically introducing the crowd to their original songs with smiles plastered on their faces throughout their much-appreciated 45-minute set.

The lights went down as the crew uncovered a backdrop of trees, inviting the audience on a getaway to Carlile's home state of Washington. Carlile and her five-piece band, three of whom were clad in fedora-style hats, ran onstage with a vigor that would sustain for the entire concert.

From the start, it was evident that Carlile's live vocals feed directly from the energy of the audience. Carlile and "The Twins" (longtime bandmates Phil and Tim Hanseroth) exuded perfect harmonies as they powered through the first two tracks of her most recent album, 2012's Bear Creek. Mixing in some conversation, Carlile recalled that the Anaheim club was the very first House of Blues they ever played. "It was way before we ever got a record deal," she said. "We opened up for Hanson."

Drawing material from all four of her studio albums, Carlile often preceded a song by revealing its meaning or the location where she wrote it, affording attendees some personal perspective on her craft. At one point, the six musicians stepped out on the edge of the stage for something different. "I find it so important when we're playing indoors to step out in front of the microphones and join you for one song that's completely unplugged," said Carlile. They proceeded to perform a completely acoustic version of "What Can I Say," which captivated the audience and revealed another side of Carlile's artistry.

Carlile & Co. also eloquently tackled three cover songs, which I feel are always added gems at live shows. Carlile took the spotlight with her electric guitar for a powerful and chilling performance of Radiohead's "Creep," while later in the set she highlighted some of her musical inspirations by paying tribute to Fleetwood Mac and Johnny Cash. Carlile also talked about her time opening for one of her idols, James Taylor, whose influence is clearly evident in the guitar riff for "Closer To You."

The minutes flew by and the audience soon regretfully accepted the end of the show. One thing was clear — from the technical crew to the artists, everyone who crossed that stage clearly loves their job.

To catch Brandi Carlile in a city near you, click here for tour dates.

Set list:

"Hard Way Home"
"Raise Hell"
"Have You Ever"
"Dying Day"
"Dreams"
"What Can I Say"
"Creep" (Radiohead cover)
"Downpour"
"Closer To You"
"Keep Your Heart Young"
"100"
"A Promise To Keep"
"The Chain" (Fleetwood Mac cover)
"Again Today"
"That Wasn't Me"
"The Story"

Encore:
"Pride And Joy"
"Folsom Prison Blues" (Johnny Cash cover)

(Erin Hanson serves as the GRAMMY U Representative for The Recording Academy Los Angeles Chapter. She is a live music enthusiast and a proud USC Trojan. Follow her @erin__hanson.)

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