I went to see THE INDIGO GIRLS at the House of Blues Dallas where most of the sold out crowd had followed Emily Saliers and Amy Ray since Strange Fire, their first album in 1987. They knew their first 15 albums and were beginning to listen to their newest record, One Lost Day, released in June of this year, and were loud and proud of their favorite duo. I had never seen them live in concert, so I was looking forward to a night of good music, good musicians and a good crowd.
THE INDIGO GIRLS and their touring band walked onstage without an introduction, but to thunderous applause and began playing “Fill It Up Again” from the All That We Let In album. Emily started the song on lead, but it quickly turned into a beautiful harmony between the two women, which is what they’re known for. Ms. Ray followed that with “Compromise,” a song with a slight edge to it that fit Amy’s deeper voice. Ms. Saliers immediately launched into “Get Out The Map,” an upbeat traveling song.
Amy Ray started an acoustic solo at the beginning of “Texas Was Clean”, a soft, yet pointed song. Naturally, it received a loud cheer in Dallas. Emily then led another beautiful harmony on “Southern California.” They switched to electric guitars for “Heartache,” which turned out to be an upbeat song. It also featured the first of many rocking violin solos by Lyris Hung, who shared the front of the stage with Amy and Emily. “Love Will Come To You” was another harmonious blend of their two great voices and I barely noticed that the band had left the stage.
Amy sang a real hand-clapper in “Bitterroot,” which also included a long instrumental guitar piece that stirred the crowd. The crowd didn’t know the slow, methodic “Findlay, Ohio,” as it was on their newly released album, but they quickly learned to love it as it began with a violin solo, Amy on electric guitar and Emily singing and playing the acoustic.
“Faye Tucker” felt like an old-time folk song, but changed gears with the violin solo and turned into an Irish jig that pumped up the crowd. The two guys to my right even managed to turn it into a headbanging song and seemed quite pleased with themselves. The audience, and my new headbanging friends, kept jumping to “Least Complicated.” It contained the requisite overhead hand-clapping and it got loud when Emily said, “Y’all are awesome!”
They brought out the electric guitars again when Amy sang “Happy In The Sorrow Key.” It was a fast song, as evidenced by my toes tapping and my neighbors’ heads banging. The women didn’t speak to the crowd very often, but Amy added, “Thanks for listening,” which was met with a chorus of “No, thank you for playing!” “Southland In The Springtime” got two girls dancing in the dining area, which quickly turned into three girls dancing to the easy listening song. “Share The Pain” was great musically as Amy, Emily and Lyris switched between electric, acoustic, mandolin and dulcimer. “Come A Long Way” featured great harmony between the longtime collaborators.
“Land Of Canaan” had a faster tempo than most of the other songs and included guitar and violin solos. They introduced Carol Isaacs on Keyboards and Benjamin Ryan Williams, the bassist, as being from Dallas, which was a crowd pleaser. Jaron Pearlman was a steady drummer, not called upon to be spectacular, but certainly an integral part of the band. “Power Of Two” was a well-known song and turned into a sing-along led by Emily. The trio of women were back dancing, but one of the headbangers had gone to the restroom and the remaining guy apparently felt headbanging was a two-man process only. All the songs were now crowd favorites and the audience kept the love alive for another new one, “Olympia Inn.”
The singalong was back for “Woodsong” and many stood to bob and weave to the music, wanting to dance but not having enough alcohol in their systems. They couldn’t help it, though, as “Shame On You” was next and it included a good, old-fashioned jam session on stage. They weren’t shaking their moneymakers, but a few did gyrate their groove things. The last song of the set was my favorite, “Galileo,” an inspirational tune with great lyrics and great music. We were all feeling good when they left the stage.
The cell phones, with apps of Bic lighters shining, came out and it looked like a GRAND FUNK RAILROAD concert in the 70’s. The band came back out to a nice ovation and launched into “Share The Moon.” This set up the final song of the evening, “Closer To Fine,” mostly everyone’s favorite. The crowd erupted, the dancers were dancing, the headbangers were banging and the gyrators took it up a notch. KRISTY LEE, the opening act, came on stage and enjoyed herself immensely. THE INDIGO GIRLS sang the first verse, we sang the second verse, then a flute solo from the keyboardist and finally Kristy, who has a powerful voice, sang the third verse. They jammed some more and enjoyed some fan interaction before ending their well-over-two-hour show.
THE INDIGO GIRLS put together a tight band of musicians, especially violinist Lyris Hung, who really shined during her solos and backup playing. The crowd was raucous all night, singing along with every song they knew and dancing every chance they got. I’m really glad I got to see them in concert as they were much better musicians than I realized and showed their skills on acoustic and electric guitars, the mandolin and the dulcimer. Their voices carried very well in the House of Blues arena and lent themselves to beautiful harmonizing. Working as a duo for 35 years has given them the ability to mix and match their musical styles into a cohesive pair of musicians, songwriters and vocalists. It turned out to be a great show and everyone went home happy.
LIVE WORDS: DAVID SIMERS
LIVE PHOTOS: GUZPIX