Brandi Carlile Live Review

Brandi Carlile Live Review and Concert Photos | Suwannee Springfest 2016 | Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park | March 18, 2016

by • March 24, 2016

“There is just something cool about this place,” Brandi Carlile beams about Suwannee’s stunning amphitheatre stage. She opens with a flurry of up-tempo tunes including the exhilarating “Raise Hell.” She is gracious in her praise for the atmosphere, for the adoring crowd. In the photo pit, another journalist’s eyes meet mine. We are both grinning goofy smiles. “I love her!” she mouths to me.

Carlile sits at a piano for a song about redemption. She’s taking us to church, she says. It’s beautiful, recognizable as gospel-influenced, but wholly a Brandi Carlile tune. The set meanders down through The South as the Washington-born singer/songwriter tells us Emmylou Harris is one of her heroes.

She plays a song written in tribute to the First Lady of country music. Like an Americana Walt Whitman, Carlile rhymes “every now and then” with “Indian” (as in the motorcycle), playing with the words, making them her own. Not forcing anything on the language, but helping it realize its full potential.

Carlile tells a reverent story of working with John Prine, the songwriter will grace the same stage later in the weekend. Of him pulling her on stage to sing “In Spite of Ourselves,” a tune with which she was previously unfamiliar. When John Prine asks you to sing one of his songs, you oblige, even if that means faking it. Brandi Carlile can hang with the likes of John Prine. The lyrics to the song are the antithesis of Brandi Carlile thoughts.

“He ain’t got laid in a month of Sundays/I caught him once and he was sniffin’ my undies/He ain’t too sharp but he gets things done/Drinks his beer like it’s oxygen/He’s my baby/And I’m his honey/Never gonna let him go,” she self-consciously reenacts for us.

One has to believe her effort was credible. What struck the band — Brandi and the Hanseroth twins — about John Prine was his young heart, and how he brought the same out of those around him.

Her girlish charm becomes the passive voice shielding the soul of a grown-ass woman. One whose stage presence cannot be divorced from the love she feels for her wife and daughter. The loving embrace of Suwannee doesn’t balk at her mention of her wife. There’s a hint of hesitation in her voice as she says the word “wife,” as if expecting North Florida to live up to its stereotype as a bit closed-minded. Perhaps that is just us projecting our ten-ton chip onto her shoulder. No matter. She is characteristically enveloped by the loving embrace of the amphitheater’s live oak hammock.

Brandi Carlile Live Review

I didn’t write this next song, and the person who did, did not mean it this way. But when I hear the song, it stands for the right of all people to spend the rest of their lives with whoever they love.”

Brandi Carlile launches into a cover of The Avett Brothers’ “Murder in the City.” Make sure my wife knows I loved her. Make sure my daughter knows the same. Always remember, there is nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name. Her volume raises on the word wife as it is enunciated for effect. Her cadence slows as she says “I loved her.”

Many of us went into the set not knowing what to expect. We had listened to Brandi Carlisle and were looking forward to her set. But few of us were ready for the power of her voice, the magnetism of her charm, and the depth of her loving spirit.

Brandi Carlile Live Review by Jason Earle, edited by Matthew Weller.
Brandi Carlile Concert Photos by Jason Earle.

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