Brandi Carlile’s audience was ravenous on Wednesday night at The Knitting Factory as the soulful songstress worked through nearly two hours of country-tinged rock tunes with her band of endlessly energetic cohorts. The interplay between performer and crowd was empowering and all in attendance hung onto her every word, song and goosebump-inducing trip to the top of her stratospheric range.
Carlile was able to deftly move between stomping, driving anthems and intimate ballads. Fan favorites “The Story” and “The Things I Regret” off of her new album, “The Firewatcher’s Daughter,” were early highlights and were only bolstered by the gleaming talent of her guitarist and bassist, twin brothers Phil & Tim Hanseroth — who Carlile simply referred to as “the twins” throughout the night. The twins’ air-tight harmonies, tasteful musicianship and abundant affability were stage right and left the entire show, lifting Carlile’s already superb stage presence to new heights.
In addition to the twins, cellist Josh Neumann added a welcome texture to the otherwise straight-ahead rock instrumentation. His ability to settle in the background and blend with the guitar added an almost organ-like effect to the tone.
While Carlile spent ample time promoting her new album, she made sure to span her entire career with songs like “Again Today,” “Mainstream Kid” and “Cherry Bomb.” The audience joined in for at least parts of all of these songs as Carlile strengthened her hold on them.
“Looks like we’re going to party on a Wednesday!” Carlile yelled emphatically at one point to triumphant cheers from the crowd. And a party was had by all.
The most unabashedly fun part of the evening came when Carlile brought on opening act Baskery to play “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” after a roof rattling drum solo.
The crowd didn’t let Carlile leave without a handful of encores, the most intriguing of which being a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Going To California.” Her voice cracked as she screamed the chorus over the mellow instrumentation of one acoustic guitar. She led the group into a singalong as the song neared to a close, leaving all in attendance with the feeling they had had since the show began; that they were all one. Carlile’s prowess as a songwriter, performer and singer has the ability to do more than just entertain. It has the ability to unite.
Baskery’s bundle of energy
The Sweden-based Americana three-piece opened up for Carlile with a quirky but ultimately endearing set of country, folk and rock songs that built with more energy than would seem possible for an acoustic based act. Their particular brand of roots music was well received and the audience was happy to see their return to the stage during Carlile’s set.