The brave and dedicated fought the surprise spring snowstorm, venturing to the Aggie Theater in Fort Collins for the sold-out Brandi Carlile acoustic concert.
Opening for Brandi was Angel Taylor, not the locally-based Gregory Alan Isokov who is opening for Brandi on several of the dates this tour.
Due to a gigantic snow storm and a piece of the ceiling apparently falling down (the fire department was called to check things out) Brandi didn’t take the stage until 10:30.
She came out saying “Hello everybody!”
Closer To You
They went straight into I’ve Just Seen A Face (Beatles)
“Thank you! Wow!” she laughed. Then she said “Sing it if you know it,” before starting What Can I Say?
“You guys were insane,” she said. “You were crazy. Can you believe this, Phil? Can you really? What if they were all like this, Phil?
“So, if you just wandered in off the street,” she continued with a laugh. “If you just wandered in off the street my name is Brandi Carlile and this is Tim Hanseroth and Phil Hanseroth and Josh Neumann on the cello.
“This is the first time we’ve ever been on an acoustic tour for any other reason than we can’t afford drums. So we actually chose this this time, although I wish right now we had drums. But I think you can handle it like this, right? You guys are just intense, you know that?
“We’re gonna play you guys a song that Phil wrote while wandering naked through my yard. Not completely naked, just like a homemade loincloth and some maple leaves, things like that. He wrote this song because he’s a truth seeker and he seeks the truth. He looks for things like UFOs and ghosts… USOs which he informed me are UFOs that are submerged under water. Edgar Cayce, Tony (?). He’s a truth seeker so he wrote this song.”
Have You Ever
Brandi walked out to the edge of the stage and said, “I want to try something here, do you think we can do this? I will sing as loud as I can and we’re gonna do this next song completely unplugged.
“And I know you think I’m crazy, but this could work if you stay very quiet. And I swear to God this is the only time I’ll ask you to do this the whole night. The rest of the night be loud, but right now let’s be quiet. We’re gonna play you guys a song from my new record, completely unplugged. It’s called ‘Dying Day.’ We did this song in Mankato, Minn. in an arena so I know we can make it work here.”
“Thanks! Thank you so much, you guys are great for listening to me.
“I want to play you guys another new song, is that alright? This song is called ‘Dreams’ and it’s not nearly as innocent as it sounds.”
She moved to the piano, started playing a little bit and then said, “This is the part where I get nervous and play the piano. So I’ve got to do my famous ‘false alarm’ song. And you’ve got to sing with me. Will you?”
Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)
“Alright, that was a great singalong, I’m officially warmed up. I want to play you guys a song that we recorded for our record, it’s my favorite song on there. I insisted on playing piano on it even though there were many, there were so many able musicians around and I’m not the greatest piano player in the world, but I’m learning.
“So, I played this song and it took me 9 hours, I cried twice, and I don’t really expect it to take me any less time now, but I feel compelled to play it for you. However, I’m a little bit nervous so I hope you love it.”
Before it Breaks
“You guys are just amazing. It doesn’t get any better than this.
“It’s a hat night for us,” she laughed. “Aren’t the twins so cute? I’ll tell you what, we are such a family, we’ve been such a family on the road for so long and living out here together with Josh and me and the twins and our tour manager and Alex, our sound guy, the guard dog back there, you want to say ‘Hi,’ Guard Dog? His name is Alex, and he hates when we call him ‘Guard Dog’ cause his last name is Gardner so he’s ‘Guard Dog.’
“Anyway, so we’ve been living 9 people, 9 dudes, to a 45-foot bus for so long, and there’s never a moment of tension. There’s just one point in life where the twins don’t get along. It’s very seldom that it happens but it’s when we’re in the studio and they’re singing background vocals into the same microphone. When you put two twin brothers together and make them face each other like this, for hours and hours at a time, you’re gonna get fireworks.
“It starts out fine and they kind of look like choir boys and then they start rolling their sleeves up and their stance kinda chances a little bit and they unbutton their first few buttons and then before you know it it’s like, ‘Fuck you, man, it’s called practice.’ ‘When are you going to learn to hit those notes?’
“And just when it gets real bad, when it’s like ‘You go to hell,’ ‘No, F-you, you go to hell’ and they’re just cursing each other out the producer comes over the loudspeaker and says, ‘Rolling’ and they go (imitates angels singing) and you would have never guessed that the voices of angels coming out of these two people when they were just using prison lingo and sharpening their homemade prison shanks, they’re getting into a prison yard brawl around the microphone. You’ll see what I mean.”
Which fell apart entirely when Brandi gave Tim a peck on the cheek and couldn’t stop laughing.
“We just have to play this song for you guys,”
“I want to play you guys a song from our new record that I wrote a long time ago when I was about 18 and my mother hated it, she though I was so angry, ‘Why are you so angry?’ So it kind of went away for a long time, and recently we just finished our third record and we worked with Rick Rubin who had heard this song back when I was about 20 years old and I still thought it was awesome and he wanted us to record it, so we did. And now I have this angry song. But it’s okay because I always say that this is a song that maybe Patsy Cline would have written if she had a tattoo.”
“Thank you so much, you guys are such a great audience, this is so much fun to be here.”
Late Morning Lullaby
“This is my first time in Fort Collins. We would have come here every time if we had known what was waiting for us.”
“It’s not very often you come across a crowd like this one. You guys are great, you’re singing… you’re fucking obnoxious which is awesome. We’re gonna ask you guys to sing with us on this next one if you will. We’re going to show you our own little special three-part harmony thing and we’re going to do this and we’re gonna turn ourselves into the Fort Collins choir.”
During which she split the audience into the usual three parts saying, “You guys sound amazing. We’re going to divide everyone up into three sections. All of you all over here, you’re Tim’s section, everyone in the center – you’re mine. And everybody over here, Lord help you because you have Phil’s section, he’s going to lead you. So can we do this? We’re each going to teach you a part and then we’re going to sing together in three-part harmony. So we’re going to start with Tim and he’s going to teach you, you ready Timmy? That’s already perfect, now the center are you guys ready? It’s beautiful, let’s add the third, you ready Phil? Angel! Listen to yourselves, it sounds really beautiful!”
“That was beautiful, you guys are great! Fort Collins can sing their asses off.
“So we’re coming around to the second to the last leg of the first part of this tour, if that makes any sense. And this is one of the coolest nights so far, for sure. And some of the strangest things have happened. One of the craziest things that happened to us on the tour was in Portsmouth, N.H. right at the very beginning. We were playing this beautiful old theater called the Portsmouth Music Hall, it was so beautiful. And right in the middle of a song, ‘Downpour’ I believe it was, a bird shit on Josh. From up in the rafters, it had gotten into the venue and of all places – on stage in front of 1,500 people. That was about the happiest day of my life.
“There have been other things too, really hysterical things. I was trying to explain to an audience in um, I’m just giving you the highlights, if you don’t mind. Can we recap here? There was this place we played in Portland, Maine, and there was a person signing, like sign language at the side of the stage for the deaf audience members and at one point I had said the words ‘piano player’ to which somebody replied to me from the audience, ‘pianist’ and I said, ‘I don’t say that word because it’s so easily confused over a microphone.’ And the funny thing is that, you know, when the signer was trying to sign what was going on, all these deaf people didn’t understand why it was funny. So she had to explain in sign language the meaning of both words and that was about the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. The woman looked just like my second grade teacher. Everything I ever wanted to see in life I saw that night.
“You guys are so amazing, we love playing for you. This one’s for you.”
Jackson (Lieber/Wheeler but obviously a nod to Johnny & June)
She only sang a few verses, she didn’t sing the whole song
“I want to see everybody go absolutely nuts on this one.”
Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash)
“Thank you so much!”
They all left the stage and a few minutes later, Brandi came out by herself.
“We’ve got a couple of songs for you guys, I haven’t been closing with this song – I’m not closing – I’ve got a couple more songs for you. But you guys are fun, I’ve just loved playing for you guys so, so very much. There’s a couple cool things out on the road with us this time, as you know this is our first voluntary acoustic tour and I came on the road with one of my best friends from high school, back there selling merch is Nicole. So give her a shout-out. She designed all our merch.
“And I’m a real, live nerd. I’m a serious nerd. I’ve got the AURYN from the Never Ending Story tattooed on both my shoulders and I’m a geek. You know I like Labyrinth and The Goonies and Never Ending Story. And so I always wanted to be depicted as some kind of mystical superhero and so Nicole made a lithograph for this tour, and she truly sees me and the twins depicted fighting evil, atop of the flying dragon, ascending the jagged path to the castle and it’s called ‘Brandi Carlile and the Holy Dagger Acoustic Tour.’ So give Nicole props when you go past her, and tell her you love your poster. She even drew me with Cons, like Converse on and made me pigeon-toed which I though was really fucking sweet. Thanks, Nicole.
“Anyway, I’ve had such a good time playing for you, we’ve got a couple more songs, particularly this one.”
Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)
“Thank you so much! We’re going to get the boys out here for one more.”
She moved back to the piano and said, “Sing along if you know this one, you’ve been a great crowd. Have a safe trip home, I know it’s snowing out there. Thanks to everyone, love you lots. Thank you!”
Let It Be (Beatles)
Photos by Nichole Wagner