Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Patty Griffin at the Wiltern

Ahhh Patty, we meet again. I saw Patty Griffin at the Wiltern in Los Angeles three years ago when she was promoting her 2007 album, ''Children Running Through". I love these kinds of reunions, reuniting with my favorite artists at venues I've seen them at previously. Patty is currently touring the country promoting her new album, "Downtown Church" and stopped at the Wiltern along the way to give her Los Angeles fans an incredible show. The songs from her new gospel-influenced album were heavily featured throughout the show, but the religious overtones certainly didn't distract from the actual performance. By that, I'm mainly referring to Patty's singing. I think I can safely say she is THE voice. I have yet to find another singer whose voice is so soulful, stirring, impassioned and abundantly rich. There are simply not enough words to describe this woman's voice, so you're just going to have to trust me on this and listen to her music.

Before her set, she warmed up that unmatched vocal instrument by joining her opening act, Buddy Miller (who produced her new album) on stage to sing a few songs with him. After his set was over, following a brief intermission, Patty came out in full force, ready for her audience to experience something truly cathartic. Opening with "Standing", I knew this was going to be a laidback, mellow, and at times, emotional night of good times and good tunes. I was glad to hear her perform my two favorites from her new album, "Coming Home to Me" and "Little Fire." When introducing her song, "Heavenly Day", she explained that she considers it the only real, legitimate love song she's written...and it just so happens to be about her dog. Who knew? (Which makes me wonder why she doesn't consider her brilliant, sweet song "When It Don't Come Easy" a love song, but I guess that’s another story).

Then, it was time for something new. I love this part. I'm always eager to hear new songs at a concert. An unreleased, unrecorded song she had recently written, sung from the point of view of her grandfather. The hilariously adorable song called "Get Ready Marie" had the audience roaring with laughter as the lyrics alluded to the fact that men only have one thing on their minds and if it takes getting married to get it, then so be it. (Patty, please record this one asap!)

While the majority of the show was mainly focused on the songs from "Downtown Church", she offered up some songs from past albums, all religiously themed. "Mary", from her "Flaming Red" album, is the poignantly sad story revolving around Mary's state of mind in the aftermath of the death of Jesus and her gospel-inspired "Up to the Mountain" was inspired by the trials and tribulations of Martin Luther King, Jr. I was hoping she would perform "Moses" from her debut album in keeping with the religious theme of the night, but sadly that didn't happen. She was rather conservative with her more popular songs, opting to close out the show with more gospel-laden tunes. Yes, I was a little disappointed about that, but in the end I decided it was just fine because she was doing exactly what she wanted to do and sharing the songs she wanted to share. And we in the audience loved it all.

The best part of the night? The dancing! Patty didn't go near her keyboard the entire night, which was rather surprising, but I guess it meant that she wanted to stay standing because she was there to groove and had a grand old time doing so by dancing along to her more jazzy numbers.

Now, back to the voice. After singing so powerfully for nearly two hours, and closing her main set with the uplifting “We Shall All Be Reunited”, it just astounded me that she had the voice to belt out three more songs during her encore. Simple incredible. And so comes my least favorite part of any concert: the end. It was a wonderfully moving show, though, and I'm hoping she makes her way back here at least one more time on her tour.

Lyrics of the Day

The sky looks pissed, the wind talks back
My bones are shifting in my skin
And you, my love, are gone.
My room feels wrong, the bed won't fit
I cannot seem to operate
And you, my love, are gone.

So glide away on soapy heels
And promise not to promise anymore
And if you come around again,
Then I will take the chain from off the door.

-Ingrid Michaelson