Bowerbirds, Dry The River The Loft Thursday, April 12
Phil Moore, the singer-guitarist and principal songwriter of Bowerbirds, has an extraordinarily supple, soothing voice. He's has always been a joy to watch and listen to, but the Bowerbirds that performed last night at The Loft were the sum of their parts.Touring in support of their recently released third album, The Clearing, the band is now providing accordion player Beth Tacular a more prominent role. Longtime member Mark Paulson, who once played violin, joined in on guitar, keyboards and bass. And with the addition of cellist Leah Gibson and drummer Yan Westerland, their ambitious songs were fully realized.
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The band took the stage around 11 p.m., delayed by equipment problems that plagued the monitors for most of the evening. Starting in familiar territory, they opened with "Hooves," followed by "In Our Talons," the first songs off debut album Hymns for a Dark Horse. But then they went deep into the new album, starting with "Walk the Furrows."
The new songs sounded fuller than the traditional Americana arrangements of the first albums. They employed four-part harmonies, but didn't come off as precious. Highlights from the new album included "Hush," featuring Beth on vocals and a crazy, percussive rhythm.The fade out of "Death Wish" conjured an image of Sigur Ros, as it transitioned seamlessly into "Now We Hurry On," recalling the passionate lyrics of "In Our Talons." Beautiful.
For the set closer, the band invited opening act Dry The River up for a rendering of "Overcome With Light." Dry The River's set had been loaded with tight harmonies in the vein of Fleet Foxes, and with the combined voices of 10 performers on stage, it felt like a revival.
Personal bias: If it's not obvious, I'm a huge fan of the Bowerbirds and the talent of Phil Moore. Unfortunately, this show was enjoyed by about 75 people. I know Spoon carved away a number of the evening's concert-goers, but I hope more people acquire a taste for this band.