At the Show w/ Brandi Carlile & OR Symphony
"I've been looking forward to this show for a year." - Brandi Carlile
The night was an interesting dichotomy from the start. Walking into the lobby of the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, you were just as likely to see a lady dressed in a formal, sequined dress as you were to see one in jeans with a bandanna over her half-shaved head. This was going to be fun.
The show began quietly with Phil and Tim Hanseroth, Brandi Carlile's amazing back-up twins, performing a haunting cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence." Afterwards, Brandi appeared. My guess is that she sent the twins out to perform first because she was finishing up the final paperwork required for purchasing the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. At least she certainly walked around like she owned the stage. Always in full command, always grateful to those looking on.
She explained that she would be playing an acoustic set to warm up, and then she would head backstage to change out of her "shit-kicker boots" and in to something more respectable. She started into "What Can I Say," and drums and bass were added to the mix. To take advantage of the amazing acoustics in the room, she performed a completely unplugged version of "Dying Day." I've seen Brandi Carlile do this trick before, but doing it in a venue like the Schnitz added a new dimension. BING LOUNGE ARCHIVE: Watch videos of Brandi Carlile in the Bing Lounge
People returning from the lobby after intermission were likely to notice that the stage was a little more full, now packed with a 30 piece symphony. The lights dimmed, and Brandi returned. My review for the rest of the concert can be summed up in one word, all caps: WOW. The amazing balance between the strings, horns, and percussion were the perfect accent to Brandi's amazing songwriting.
Mixed into the amazing music were personal stories. Brandi told of the time she toured with Hanson, "Mmmm-Bopping" their way across the west coast. She also told of her lifelong obsession with Paul Buckmaster, the respected composer responsible for many of the string-arrangements on old Elton John records. She explained that she always wanted to work with him, and finally got the chance on her last studio album "Give Up the Ghost." The experience was apparently awe-inspiring and a little frightening. Although they don't spend much time together (Brandi explained that they have a little trouble communicating), they remain great friends, and Paul was the man responsible for the beautiful symphony arrangements heard throughout the evening.
I can thank Jason Weinberger, the conductor of the Oregon Symphony, for my favorite song of the evening. Apparently, he convinced Brandi to play "Looking Out" without her band. This gave the audience a perfect chance to admire the symphony, which played with brilliant energy to counter the lonely songstress.
The evening ended after many standing ovations and a great encore set that included her new single "That Wasn't Me" and her cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." When the lights finally came up, I started to exit the theater with my fiance. I overheard conversations from everyone I passed. The formally dressed were talking about their favorite Brandi Carlile songs, the hipsters talking about the amazing symphony. Heck, some of them were even talking to each other. A dichotomy unified. Perhaps Brandi should go into politics.
~ Jason Miller
Set List: (As much as I could gather)
Sound of Silence (Just the twins)
What Can I Say
Hard Way Home*
Closer to You
Promise to Keep
Dying Day (Unplugged)
Fall Apart Again
Keep Your Heart Young*
Shadow On the Wall*
Before it Breaks
That Wasn't Me
* - My Favorites