Posts Tagged ‘Shelby Lynne’


Shelby Lynne: “This shit doesn’t happen to Joni Mitchell”

October 30, 2011

I didn’t know for sure that I was going to Shelby Lynne’s solo concert at the Rio until the moment I bought a ticket at the door. That’s not my usual way.

Typically I get tickets at the exact millisecond that a presale starts to absolutely ensure I get in. But I couldn’t do that with this show because of circumstances. Miles was playing in a concert the very same night, all the way in Richmond, and I wasn’t sure what time it would be over. So as a supportive parent, I couldn’t commit to Shelby. Luckily, the band Miles was in (BCMEA Honour Jazz Ensemble, which sounded great by the way), played first before the choir that we really didn’t need to hear. So as soon as Miles packed up his gear (drummers always take a long time), I shooed the family out of the church where he played, dropped mother off, dropped the family off, and high-tailed it to the Rio.

I even got a seat in the third row of the classic old theatre. As it turned out, I was about 25 minutes early. That whole time before the concert began Lynne’s music played through the PA. It was her new album, Revelation Road. I overheard a man behind me say that the entire album had cycled through three times, and he had never heard anything like that at zillions of shows he had attended over the years. It was in fact odd to hear recorded songs that we were about to hear live. Whether it was for marketing purposes, or due to a lack of imagination, playing the headliner’s music before the gig was a misguided decision.

Why I wanted to be at the show: I have a thing for female singer/songwriters like Lynne, her sister Allison Moorer, Tift Merrit, Patty Griffin, and Julie Miller, who all have country roots but don’t necessarily stay where they came from. I saw Lynne perform at Richard’s on Richards (miss that place) in 2008. It was a much different show, with a band, that focused on songs from her Dusty Springfield tribute album (Just a Little Lovin’). And I liked it, a lot, mainly because of Lynne’s spot-on singing and stage presence.

A clip from Lynne’s Portland show, the night before performing in Vancouver (and wearing the same vest):

Why I enjoyed the Rio show:

The evening started slowly, with the odd choice of pre-concert music, and she looked and sounded kind of indifferent during her first few songs. But Lynne loosened up, especially after she picked up a guitar that clearly wasn’t tuned the way she wanted it. After her guitar tech grabbed the guitar to give it another go, Lynne said, in a deadpan voice: “This shit doesn’t happen to Joni Mitchell.”

Later, someone requested “Old #7”, a great drinking tune from her Tears, Lies, And Alibis album. Lynne shot darts in the direction of the requester and said “I don’t normally take requests.” Then she proceeded to perform the song.

She won me and the rest of audience over with both incidents. Lynne can be very gracious with audiences, but she also has an edge that makes her so interesting.

Other reasons why I enjoyed the Rio show:

  • She did “Killin’ Kind”, which is a perfect pop song, and “Leavin'”, which is a perfect soul song.
  • Lynne performed solo – accompanying herself on guitar – which isn’t all that rare, but I still marvel at the ability of artists to do it. I know I would be scared shitless.
  • She was generous in giving a fairly long show, starting with tunes from the new album (hmmm … sounds familiar) and thanking the audience for listening to the new material, then giving a cross-section of songs from her career.
  • Lynne talked just the right amount between songs, giving context to some tunes, and indirectly conveying the sense that she’s found her way through challenges.

Next time I’m buying a ticket right away.

Another clip from Portland: