2/6 Bowerbirds @ The Mohawk

bowerbirds_coverWe all braved the cold winter night for a chance to catch Bowerbirds and Julie Doiron Saturday night. Luckily, the wintery weather seemed suitable for the music, and with Lone Stars in hand, we caught a solid set from the North Carolina crew. Follow the jump for the full review.
Julie Doiron was pleasantly surprising.  For some reason, she recalls a more raucous Kimya Dawson. Her lyrics are as simplistic, but crafted cleverly, and her vocal delivery is precisely the same.  However, she has a gruffness in her voice, which some might relate to a vocal imperfection, but such imperfections are what make her so enchanting.  As she traded off guitar licks with cohort Will Kidman, you got the feeling that her music lived somewhere in the past days of alternative rock, where guitar distortion was meant for more than just gazing at your shoestrings.  Also, her bubbly personality won over the crowd.  She seemed truly elated to be upon the stage in front of everyone, and quite gracious at the crowds reaction to her performance.

Bowerbirds took to the stage just a touch after 10:45, prepared to win the crowd over with their heavenly North Carolina folk.  One thing that struck me as odd, and this is really just me, is how strange it is to have a co-front person playing an accordion.  I understand the aesthetic quality that the accordion adds to the music, and it truly was fitting, but for some reason it just seemed weird to have Beth Tacular up front.  Perhaps this just leads for a modest stage show, but let’s face it…Bowerbirds aren’t ever going to melt your face with their live performance; they’re just not that sort of band, and we’re okay with that.

The night featured great moments from across both of their albums, Upper Air and Hymns for a Dark Horse.   Each song flowed into the night, exactly as you expected, gentle notes ringing out loud.  It would have done wonders to have singer Phil’s vocals up a little bit louder, as the music occasionally made his lyrics indiscernible.  Still, multiple part harmonies never go wrong, especially when you have juxtaposed sexes battling each other.  Particularly great editions of “House of Diamonds” and “Northern Lights” carried the weight from the album directly into the audience.  There were a few missteps that the band couldn’t help, such as the switch from acoustic guitar to electric guitar, due entirely to a broken string, but the band just went with it, so we have to respect their great resolve.

As the evening came to a close, we were graced with a great treat.  Bowerbirds were joined by Julie Doiron to perform a wonderful rendition of Neil Young‘s “Tell Me Why.”  It’s such a great song to begin with, and the cover definitely did it justice, especially with Doiron’s eager vocal performance.  It brought the evening to a quiet close, one that was filled with great folk melodies and solid performances.

Many thanks to Mary Rehak (once again) for the great photos. Browse more of Mary’s photos on Flickr.

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