As the headliner in the VH1 “You Oughta Know” show, Brandi Carlile proved herself worthy in a hour and a half rockin’ set.
Coming onstage in a Boy Scouts uniform reminiscent of Linda Ronstadt, she sat down at the piano and went straight into Love Song during which there was some incredible feedback causing her to joke, “You guys hear that big, loud special effect that we did on purpose, it sounded like that. Yeah we’re getting high tech up here.”
She said “hello Phoenix” before starting Late Morning Lullaby and then Closer To You. She said that the first time she’d been in Phoenix was opening
for Tori Amos which received cheers. She laughed and asked if people actually went to that before playing Follow which she told Tim after that she “liked his new ending”.
She flung a pick into the audience causing a few shrieks and said, “I know that’s so Bon Jovi to throw picks, but I fuckin’ like Bon Jovi and I like throwing picks when I’m on stage,” before playing Have You Ever.
“You guys are great, so good. Why haven’t we been to Phoenix before? I’m feeling the UFO theme songs tonight.” She explained how the night before they had been driving from San Diego with their guitar tech (who is a hairdresser, she said, “hey, you can come… tune guitars… do our hair”) and they were looking at the stars at 4 in the morning and their really quiet bus driver said, “I reckon tonight’s he kind of night you see UFOs” and they were like, “You’ve seen UFO’s?” and he said, “I’ve seen some things.” Then she sang the last line of Have You Ever again and played Until I Die.
After several minutes of re-tuning she switched to another guitar to have an electric duel, switched back and said “This is my first song” before My Song.
The little Martin was brought out and she did Happy.
Someone in the audience asked who Emily was, and she answered that when she “was 15, I sang background vocals for an Elvis impersonator. I love Elvis Presley. My best friend was named Amber Lee, and her dad was the Elvis impersonator.” She explained how they were 14 and over at Amber Lee’s house and her dad’s band was downstairs and that she knew all of the backing vocals because of how “integrated the country songs are” and they went down and sang and then were part of the band. She said that Amber Lee and her family had moved to Vegas and so “now you know”. After Cannonball she said “the Indigo Girls sing back up on that on the record, so I call them (the twins) the Twindigo Girls cause I’m that funny.” She asked if it was alright if they played a new song and told a story about how someone pissed her off one time by “saying my lyrics were depressing and brought them down, but that’s kinda the point” so she wrote this called, I Write These Words.
They did Turpentine and she stopped to ask if we could sing. She divided the room into three parts and taught us the harmony parts for the end.
She asked if “you guys love Elton John? I love him.” (Audience screams) “What’s your favorite song? ‘Captain Fantastic’? That’s my favorite. ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’? ‘Madman Across The Water’?” She played Madman Across the Water and said that we were incredible and that she was so scared to come to Phoenix and was thinking that nobody was gonna come.
With a special thanks to VH1 she played The Story and left the stage.
For the encore she came out and asked if we “mind if we get a little country? This is a song by the late, great Johnny Cash” and played Folsom Prison, then What Can I Say and then Pride and Joy.
Someone asked if they could get a ride to Tucson with them and Brandi joked that she’d drive us all to Tucson and that “Alison from Fine Frenzy will let anyone on the bus and we’ll drive to Tucson and she’ll buy you a shot when we get there.”
She said she wanted to play a new song, but it took her a long time to tune up so she said, “I really like it. So I gotta make sure the tuning’s right. When I was 16, I lost a friend to suicide. He was 16 too and he killed himself.” She said how she was furious and that she was judgmental being a Baptist and that she never had really dealt with it. She said her “foresight wasn’t clear, being a 16-year-old Baptist” but that she had made peace with it and wrote this song, something to the effect of You’re My Friend Again.
She said we were a great audience and that they were trying to do more at the merch table than just “shirts and shit like that. Last time we did vinyls and this time it’s lithographs with the venue name. There’s only like 20 per show so you might wanna grab one on the way out.” She also mentioned that she had signed them all before the show. The thanked us for making it so fun for her and that “this one’s for you” before playing Hallelujah and then she left the stage.