This DIY space in MAGNET’s hometown will certainly be missed, and the final show did not disappoint. With the batting cages off to the side and baseball cards and peeling paint, the all-Philly lineup featured Amanda X, Hurry and Hound. The final songs were very fitting. Hurry covered John Fogerty’s “Centerfield” with Everybody Hits founder David Gavigan joining in on vocals. And the grand finale of Semisonic’s “Closing Time”—as performed by Amanda X—was a bittersweet end to a place like no other in Philly’s venue spectrum.
In one of her many addresses to the audience, the country legend proclaimed that she’s touring as Tanya Tucker “the singer,” rather than Tanya Tucker “the entertainer,” but both held court at World Cafe Live, and if there’s any daylight between the two, it’s the entertainer who has the edge.
Which isn’t to say that Tucker gave less than her all to her singing. Bookending the show with classics “Would You Lay With Me (In A Field Of Stone)?” and “Delta Dawn,” she brought warmth, depth and a lived-in feel to material from her recent While I’m Livin’ such as “Bring My Flowers Now” (a worthy winner of best country song at this year’s Grammys) and covers like Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me.”
But overall, it was the whole Tanya Tucker persona that made the show so gosh darn fun—stories about the luminaries she’s worked with, from Merle Haggard’s pep talk/tongue-lashing that brought her back to music after her mother’s death to being the only one who can call Shooter Jennings “Little Waylon”; sharing shots of her Cosa Salvaje tequila with fans in the front row; and even a casually tossed off high kick.
Interacting throughout with her crack band, she rambled mightily and seemed to space out at times on what she was supposed to do next, yet whenever she got around to a song, she fully inhabited it. But whether the best was the gleeful “What’s Your Mama’s Name” (from her 1973 album of the same name) or the determined “Mustang Ridge” (from last year’s comeback), she conveyed both the confidence needed to back up her outlaw country image and the vulnerability of a woman who understands that the rougher patches she’s survived are her own burden to carry—no matter how worshipful the crowd or how shiny the late-career awards.
Tucker wants the love and recognition while she’s still here to enjoy them, and this is her moment to receive them. It may have taken some help from friends like Jennings and Brandi Carlile to get Tucker the fresh material and the younger audience she has now, but she proved she knows what to with all this, and she’ll be damned if she lets it slip away.
Critically acclaimed singer/songwriter Brandy Clark, whose Your Life Is A Record is out next month and whose songs have been recorded by the likes of Lambert and Kacey Musgraves, opened the show.
EOB—the moniker that Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien uses for his solo work—will kick off its first full-scale North American tour May 26 at First Avenue in Minneapolis. The 13-date jaunt is in support of EOB’s debut, Earth, out April 17 via Capitol. O’Brien and band debuted their captivating live show with four intimate, sold-out gigs in the U.S. and Canada. MAGNET photographer Wes Orshoski was at NYC’s Le Poisson Rouge to witness the amazing sounds.
Nominated for four awards at this year’s Grammys (including best new artist), Yola is continuing to support her dazzling debut with lots of roadwork. It’s been a year since the Dan Auerbach-produced Walk Through Fire was released, and the force of nature born Yolanda Quartey shows no sign of slowing down. MAGNET photographer Wes Orshoski caught up with Bristol, England’s latest rising star at the Music Hall Of Williamsburg. Read our review of Yola’s Philly show three nights later.
Yola’s dynamic stage presence, lithe voice and the way she seemed to confide in listeners with every song introduction put her firmly in control of the packed World Cafe Live.
She and her perfectly in-step band seemed more like seasoned vets than a still-gelling unit pushing a debut record as they made their way through the soulful songs of Walk Through Fire (especially “I Don’t Wanna Lie,” “Shady Grove” and the title track) and several well-curated covers (most notably, Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and a mash-up of “Big Yellow Taxi” and “The Letter”).
Amythyst Kiah opened with a wonderful mix of blues, roots, folk and rock, including solo work (“Wildebeest”), songs from her great side project Our Native Daughters (“Black Myself,” “Polly Ann’s Hammer”) and a couple of stone-cold classics that sounded fresh in her hands (“Jolene,” “Darling Corey”). She moved fluidly between acoustic guitar and banjo, and though she pitched her voice down a step—at times calling to mind a prophet or a preacher—it sounded like the most natural thing in the world.