Returning to Colorado and Boulder’s Chautauqua Auditorium with a full band (including Allison Miller, drums, Josh Neumann, cello, and the twins, Phil and Tim Hanseroth, bass and guitar), Brandi Carlile played to a sold-out crowd.
The second show of their “Give Up The Ghost” tour, preparing fans for the upcoming record of the same name (out Oct. 6) they played an amazing hour and a half set, incorporating new material in with some older favorites.
Opening the show was the North Carolina band, Noises 10, sharing songs from their album The Hammer, The Anvil, The Stirrup. Brandi (who is always willing to lend a musical hand) came out and added background vocals on a song called My Repair.
After the opener and short intermission, Brandi and the band came out and started the harmony-full Oh Dear in a group around one mic.
“Thank you! Thank you so much!” Brandi said. “Sing along if you know it!”
What Can I Say
“Oh my God, I’m so happy to be back here! I love Boulder, my God, I love Chautauqua,” she said. “Since we’ve been here, we’ve actually finished and sort of put out our next record. It actually comes out on October 6th, we’re super excited about it. This is the second show of the tour, of our ‘Give Up The Ghost Tour’ and it’s so nerve-wracking and exhilarating to play you guys the new songs.
“We’re going to play you a bunch of from the first record tonight, well a couple of songs, some songs from ‘The Story’ and a whole bunch of songs from Give Up The Ghost but this ain’t one of them.”
“That’s Allison Miller on the drums.” Brandi walked to the front of the stage with the twins, saying “I know that we’ve done this here before but when we were working up songs to play on this tour, we stared plugging everything in and we realized that it doesn’t do it justice to do it plugged. Maybe someday well plug it in and play it right but for now we’re going to play it (unplugged)… after I get a drink of water!”
“You guys are amazing,” Brandi said. “That’s so much fun to play in a place like this. Colorado has the best music venues in the world, it’s true. And the worst airport… I’m just saying.
“So we thought we’d do a section of the set where we sit down and play acoustic for you, is that alright? This is a brand new song from the record, I haven’t played it on the road, it’s called ‘I Will.'”
“Thank you! Once I get that one out of the way, I’m ready to go. That’s a lot of words to remember. “This is an old one.”
“Ok, this next one’s crazy, we haven’t played it in years. And by years I mean like, two years. But when you’re in your twenties that still means a long span of time. I remember when I could first say things like ‘years,’ like ‘oh, yeah, ten years ago’ like it was no big deal. It always makes me feel so grown-up. I feel it legitimizes me.
“So this next song, is a song from The Story, it’s a hidden track so we never end up playing this one live. If we had had Ally with us in the studio it would not have been a hidden track.”
Hiding My Heart
“You’re so quiet,” she whispered. “We’re going to fix that right now.”
She moved to the piano and said, “Have I told you guys I got to meet Elton John? I may have told some people this story but I think there are over a thousand people here and all of you couldn’t have heard it.
“So Elton John is like my greatest influence, my greatest hero of all time. I was so in love with Elton John when I was 11 or so, no one had the heart to tell me. And when I say that I loved Elton John I mean like I had posters on my wall which are not easy to come by when you’re 12 and it’s the ’90s. And then I was Elton John for Halloween, year after year after year after year. And I just love him, what can I say?
“We made this record, we all got together and king of pooled our courage to ask Elton John if he would record a song with us for this record, which he did do. And it was amazing, it was like months would go by and it hadn’t happened yet because he’s a really busy dude and I was so worried. I was in Fort Collins and we were called to fly out the next morning to meet Elton John in Vegas, which is a great place to meet Elton John, to do the song. I remember I flew out in a snowstorm and I was so afraid my flight would be cancelled. I was up all night with a pen and paper thinking about all these profound things I was going to say to Elton John about how he influenced me to write songs…
“And I swear to God, you really find out what you’re made of when you’re standing in front of one of your heroes, because in the car on the way to the studio, all I kept thinking was the stupidest things (like) ‘What’s Elton John going to be wearing?’ He was wearing a track suit. But, you’ll be so pleased to find out he was wearing hot pink sunglasses, just like you hope that Elton John will be wearing when you meet him, hot pink sunglasses.
“And I swear to God, you know the nerves are starting to die down, he sits down at the piano and says, ‘let’s give this a go’ and he pulls out this little case, a glasses case. And I was like,’Oh my God, nobody sees this shit. This is like where Elton John puts on his real glasses because he’s going to play some music.’ So he takes off the hot pink sunglasses and takes out the real prescription glasses and to my amazement, they’re also hot pink. It’s like when Mister Rogers changes his sweater and it’s the exact same sweater. It was basically excatly how you’d hope it would be, the experience of meeting Elton John. And then I saw a show the next night, me and the Twins and he dedicated ‘Tiny Dancer’ to me.
“So he really inspired me to play a lot of my own piano on this record and this song’s no exception, it’s called ‘Before It Breaks.'”
Before It Breaks
“This is John (? did someone catch the last name?) on the electric guitar, Josh Neumann on the cello, Allison Miller on the drums, Philip Hanseroth on bass, Tim Hanseroth on guitar and those are the Twins.
“Colorado has always been amazing to us, you guys have never ceased to amaze me. You’ve always been so wonderful, we’ve had some of the best shows here and we just appreciate you all so much. This song makes me think of you a lot. And this song makes Phil think of aliens a lot. Not that there’s a similarity. It makes me think of mountains and trees and rivers and it makes Phil think of Galactic Federsations that every president’s known about since Eisenhower. And how the concept of Star Trek was suggested to Gene Roddenberry in his sleep by outer space aliens. But alas, he did write the song.”
Have You Ever
“This reminds me so much of a dance hall or like the Grand Ole Opry kind of vibe. Would you guys sing with us on this next one? I knew I didn’t even need to ask.”
“Thanks for singing! Wow! We have a really special guest for you tonight, he’s a local treasure and one of my favorite new artists, one of my favorite artists in general. We’re going to bring him on out, Gregory Alan Isakov. Hi Gregory.”
“Hi,” Gregory said.
“I was talking about you on the radio today.”
“What’d you say?”
“Well, nice things. I said the same thing I just said.”
“That I tape the chords to the monitor?”
“No,” Brandi laughed.
“I said that you think that I’m too depressing to write a children’s album. Which is what you did say.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“He’s a great friend.”
“We’ll do it, there’s sad children, too.”
“He also said I curse too much. I told him to speak for his ‘blank’ self. I think this may be an all ages show, I’m just trying to prove Greg wrong. So, what song are we doing Gregory?”
“Gregory and Jeb! Let’s hear it for them! I love them.
“Are you having a good time? The first time we played in Boulder was at the Fox Theatre for 60 people. This one’s for you.”
She moved back to the piano and said, “Thank you so much, you’re an incredible audience. Thank you. Sing along if you know it.”
Let It Be
The band left for an encore break and came back out, Brandi saying, “You know we couldn’t get rid of this cover, by the late, great, Johnny Cash!”
Folsom Prison Blues (With Gregory Alan Isakov on banjo and Jeb Bows on fiddle it turned into a regular hootenanny.)
“What a band, huh? I’m going to bring it way down from Folsom Prison Blues, as you can see (she was the only one elft on the stage).
“Well, I used to only play this song when I was super depressed but now that it’s on the record I’ve got ot play it often. But it’s good for me. I wrote this song about a friend that I lost to suicide when I was 16, and he was 16 too. It was a really hard time for both of us, at the time I thought it was just a really hard time for me. But like so many kids that are 16, I didn’t have the coping skills to really reconcile what had happened and at the time I thought that it had happened to me but it turns out that it actually happened to him. And it took me ten years to figure that out, a lot of it was because I was a Baptist – don’t get offended – I have a very special place in my heart for the Baptists, very special. Anyway, I had a dream ten years later, woke up and wrote this song. And it helped me make peace with the situation."
“This next tune, is one that I’m really proud of because I tend to write songs from a darker place. And this particular song was just, it was an absolute must, I had to write a song that was not dark. And I always set out to write these songs that aren’t dark, and you’ll hear it. They begin out as love songs and they end in this tortured way. It starts out and it’s like, ‘I love you… but I really miss you,’ ‘I love him… but I’m sorry that we’ve broken up,’ or ‘I love you… but I’m sorry that you died.’ And it starts out ‘I love you’ but it ends with something else. And so I tried to do this for so long, it took me weeks to write this song, lyrically.
“And what finally worked was I had to revert back to 12-year-old Brandi and write a song as if I had just started learning to rhyme. And I thought that the result was pretty special and cool. There are probably a couple things in here, but they’re purely unintentional.”
If There Was No You
“We’re going to bring the band out for one more song, we’re also going to bring Gregory and Jeb out for one more song. The rest of the shows are going to have a lot to measure up to, starting the tour out of Chautauqua, those are big shoes. For anyone who doesn’t know we’re playing at the Mishawaka Amphitheater tomorrow, make sure you come on out.”
Pride and Joy “Thank you so much, Boulder, goodnight!”