Lots of free concerts lately!
A week ago Wednesday it was Kim Richey at the Dell in Haddon Heights, NJ. For some reason I was expecting a solo show but, as you can see from the photo, she brought a full band with her. For a hot and humid night Kim and the band played a pretty energetic show. Lots of new stuff from Chinese Boxes and a few older songs, too. Opening act Carsie Blanton was all smiles and girlish charm, a combination of sweet innocence and singsong vocals that fit her songwriting style perfectly. Carsie's got a myspace page (as does Kim Richey) and I've got some photos from the show at my flickr page.
Two days later, it was another Friday Free-at-Noon concert at WXPN, with Brooklyn's Joan as Policewoman opening up for Crowded House.
The nonsensically-named Joan as Policewoman (I'm pretty sure she's not a real policewoman) is singer-songwriter Joan Wasser backed by a drummer and bass player. Wasser sounds a bit like Cat Power with a punkier edge. She put on quite a show, with her gold lamé shirt and dramatic head flips. Not quite what the Crowded House crowd goes for, but I thought she sounded pretty good.
As is the custom during the two-act Free-at-Noon shows, the first act was interviewed while the roadies set the stage for the second act. This usually takes about three minutes, but for some reason Crowded House's guys took about ten. This caused a bit of confusion since the show was being broadcast live on NPR while the drawn-out interview with Joan Wasser was going in circles. When the band finally did come out they didn't seem like they were taking the show very seriously, but they were having a good time and soon enough the audience was laughing along with them and their slow set-up was pretty much forgotten (maybe not by the host of the show, who looked like she wanted to kill someone - probably someone from New Zealand). Neil Finn warned that he wasn't going to sing anything with high notes (so no "Don't Dream It's Over"), but the four songs they did play sounded just fine.
Today I was back at 'XPN for another two-fer free concert, this time it was Neko Case opening for Rufus Wainwright. I would have been happier with a full show of Neko, but Rufus was pretty good, too. Neko hasn't had a new album since last year's Fox Confessor Brings the Flood and three of her four songs came from that disc, which was just fine by me. I just wish I got to hear her for more than than twelve minutes.
Rufus played three songs from his new disc, Release the Stars, and brought out his half-sister Lucy Roche (daughter of Suzzie Roche of the Roches) to help sing a pretty decent version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" (I still don't think anyone does it better than Cohen himself). He came back out after the broadcast was over and played probably my favorite song of his, "California," as an encore.
Rufus and Neko had a strict no-photography rule in effect, so all I've got for you is the NPR archive of the show.