Show Review: Shelby Lynne and Findlay Brown at Great American Music Hall, 4/23/10

by Jason LeRoy on April 24, 2010

Shelby Lynne rocking a pompadour at the Roxy Theatre on Thursday night. Photo courtesy of her Facebook page.

When I approached the Great American Music Hall box office last night to pick up my tickets for the Shelby Lynne concert, something very startling happened: the box office rep also handed me two backstage passes with the instructions to “come down and say hello” afterward. This has never happened to me before. And while I was giddily excited about the prospect of meeting Shelby, I was also a complete basket-case. My interactions with celebrities have ranged from moderately successful (when I have enough time to plan my words carefully) to sheer blood-curdling disaster (when the opportunity catches me by surprise). So how would tonight go?

Opening act Findlay Brown won over the audience with his intimate, beautiful Jose Gonzalez-style folk rock. He pulled his material primarily from his excellent most recent album, the Bernard Butler-produced Love Will Find You. He was the perfect lead-in for the sultry beauty of Lynne’s vocals.

Eventually Lynne took the stage with two guitarists and no percussion. Going percussion-free is always a bold risk, but in this case it certainly payed off. The vibrant warmth and naked emotion of Lynne’s songs was only further underscored by the intimate arrangements, and Lynne has more than enough presence to fill even the starkest of stages.

She played her newest album, Tears, Lies, and Alibis, in its entirety. The material comes to life beautifully in concert, from the uptempo (“Why Didn’t You Call Me”) to the rueful (“Like A Fool”) to the angry (“Family Tree”). Lynne’s ode to whiskey, “Old #7,” proved to be especially crowd-pleasing, as was her quirkily humorous tribute to mobile homes, “Something To Be Said About Airstreams.” She dedicated the poignant “Loser Dreamer” to dearly departed San Francisco-based photography legend Jim Marshall, whom she noted had shot the cover of her 2005 album, Suit Yourself.

Rather than dig too deeply into her back catalog, Lynne instead followed the album tracks with a series of unreleased songs, including “Iced Tea,” a blistering kiss-off to all the record labels that have fucked her over, eventually inspiring her to start her own label, Everso Records. While the audience clearly would have preferred hearing more material we recognized, Lynne still thrilled us by playing two selections from her breakthrough album, I Am Shelby Lynne: “Life Is Bad” and “Where I’m From.”

After the show was over, my friend and I waded through the crowd of waiting fans, proudly flashed our passes, and were granted access to the surprisingly vast multi-roomed lower level of Great American Music Hall. I’d been rehearsing what to say throughout the concert, and felt I’d safely settled on several different options depending on how much face-time I actually got with her.

As we walked down the hallway, eventually we found the dressing room with her name outside of it. We turned around and noticed that about 10 or 15 other people with passes were behind us. Eventually a woman led us into the dressing room, where Shelby was perched on a table toward the back of the room, holding a beer. The people in front of us, whom she seemed to know, approached her, and they started catching up. The rest of the crowd gradually pushed into the room, and it soon became clear that it consisted almost entirely of her friends and family. And then there was us: the press-whore fans.

We positioned ourselves awkwardly at the side of the room while Shelby warmly and enthusiastically embraced each and every person in the room. I was thinking about just leaving when Shelby caught my eye, walked over, and said hello. She attempted to give me some kind of cool-person handshake I obviously didn’t know, which culminated in us just awkwardly slapping the backs of our hands together. Still: intimacy!

It was all very brief and cordial: she thanked us for coming, we told her it was a great show and we loved her new album, she said thank you, etc. She invited us to have some of her beers, which I’d like to think meant she liked us and wanted us to hang around, even though it actually meant, “I’m going to go talk to the people I actually know, so have some beers and enjoy yourselves.” Regardless, it was very generous of her, and we slipped out shortly thereafter without so much as a remotely embarrassing moment to regret in the morning. Success!

Setlist:

Rains Came
Why Didn’t You Call Me
Like A Fool
Alibi
Something To Be Said
Family Tree
Loser Dreamer
Old #7
Old Dog
Home Sweet Home
5 Years
Don’t You Know

Encore:

Life Is Bad
Where I’m From
Love Song (solo)
Iced Tea (solo)

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Pam Bolton April 27, 2010 at 2:29 pm

We drove 2 hours, anxiously awaited to visit with her (I have met her many years ago, saw her at FanFair and visited her in her apartment when she was first married) We also had back stage passes. Really no back stage, the theater which I had been in many years ago was in sad shape and the warm up act didn’t show. Needless to say, she was somewhat perturbed when she got on stage and said she had had a bad day. Hadn’t we all. My husband is about to lose his job, our tenants not making payments and both of our healths have gone to hell. She left immediately and didn’t see anyone even though my sister had been in contact with her manager (thus the back stage passes) and eight of us paid to go see her and bought the new CD and the Dusty Springfield CD. We loved the show, however, were disappointed at not seeing her as we were assured we would. Four teenagers were very excited to see her and let down. Regardless of all our days going to hell, we paid for the tickets and hoped to say a word or to to her. We wish you luck and love and ALWAYS follow your dreams.

Pam Bolton
(big sister of Dawna)

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