Show Review: Amy Millan and Bahamas at Cafe Du Nord, 10/28/09

by Gordon Elgart on October 29, 2009


When Amy Millan steps away from one of her band projects (Stars, Broken Social Scene), she morphs from indie chanteuse into a roadhouse country singer. There’s plenty of lyrics about drinking, loneliness and hitting the road. I knew right away that this would be a pretty mellow show, and I was definitely proven right by the end of the night.

Bahamas was the one-man opening band. When he walked on stage, there was nobody in the showroom at Cafe Du Nord save for the few tables full of people enjoying the last of their dinner. Afie Jurvanen, who’s been touring with Feist in recent years and may not be used to an empty audience, invited those in the bar to join him up against the stage. Those that did were treated to a set of quiet, pretty songs that perfectly set the mood for the evening. His ending cover of “Purple Rain” perked up everyone’s ears, and the small crowd gave him a polite reaction.

Amy Millan, during her set, commented on the polite reaction. “That’s an adult show clap because you have to hold a drink and clap at the same time.” She got much of the same during her hour-long set. Amy was accompanied by four musicians during this set, whose names she said but I didn’t have a chance to scribble down. One of them played mainly mandolin, another played bass (mainly stand-up but occasionally electric), and two others played a lot of everything. My favorite side musician of the night was a girl I nicknamed “Invisible Girl” because from where I was standing at the beginning of the show, I couldn’t see her, and didn’t realize she was there until the band was introduced. There were a few times throughout the set that Amy was accompanied only by Invisible Girl on guitar or drums, and these were the best moments of the set.

Amy and Invisible Girl

Amy and Invisible Girl

The show, including encore, was only about an hour long. She told a story of a previous gig in Portland where the hotel is in the same building as the venue, and how she stayed up for five hours playing music in the hotel. A fan of hers came by with a box of wine for the band, and stayed listening as they played a little private hotel room set. That was pretty much the vibe on stage as well: friends playing some old-timey music as people gather around sharing a box of wine.

I’ve included a photo of the setlist Amy Millan used below, and I’m honestly not familiar enough with her material to know how closely she followed this. Not listed, but performed, was her cover of Death Cab For Cutie’s “I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” which changes from a sad song into something more wistful when she does it. “Day to Day” was my favorite song in the set, performed with just Amy’s voice and Invisible Girl on drums.

Amy Setlist

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Joel October 29, 2009 at 9:45 am

I’ve played Amy Millan a couple times on my show. I like “Old Perfume” and “Finish Line.”


Gordon Elgart October 29, 2009 at 9:47 am

Oh yeah, “Finish Line” is great. Until “Day to Day,” that was the best song of the night.


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