Brandi Carlile is an unstoppable superstar. With a sold-out hometown crowd in the palm of her hand, the 26-year-old Ravensdale, Wash., native had a right...
Brandi Carlile is an unstoppable superstar.
With a sold-out hometown crowd in the palm of her hand, the 26-year-old Ravensdale, Wash., native had a right to be nervous Friday night at the Paramount, and she acknowledged some butterflies.
“But just let me get a few songs in and you won’t be able to get me offstage,” she said early on.
Toward the end of the concert, she belted out verses of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” like she was home alone.
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Closing the show with Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” was a spiritual experience for everyone present, including Carlile. As dollar-store Virgin Mary candles rested on guitar amps, a single spotlight shone on Carlile and her massive black grand piano.
At one point she sang sweetly, projecting her whiskey-tinged voice like Rufus Wainwright, and at another she was spitting syllables, breaking the song’s refrain to keep from crying.
Then came the Carlile one-two: a soaring scream filled the room, threatening to tear the speakers with its frightening majesty. Just as things got blood-curdling, The Voice flipped over itself into a devastating crystal falsetto.
In the crowd, some people cried. Brandi Carlile and a piano is a deadly combination, and she murdered the song.
Listening to Brandi Carlile unleash her voice is like getting hit with a train, but her on-a-dime trades between violent rage and alien echo are the most dangerous vocal tricks in contemporary pop music. She sounds like a cross between Radiohead singer Thom Yorke and Bonnie Raitt.
Carlile — with Tim (guitar) and Phil (bass) Hanseroth, Josh Neumann (cello) and Matt Chamberlain (drums) — tore through an ambitious set with sublime confidence; culling songs from her eponymous 2005 debut and this year’s VH1-supported “The Story,” Carlile’s million-dollar voice soothed, pierced and ran itself ragged, taking on otherworldly significance as the show progressed.
Opener A Fine Frenzy failed to impress. But the disappointment was short-lived. By the time Carlile got to her hard-rocking hit single (“The Story’s” title track), the 70 percent female crowd was blown back, mouths hanging open at the gale coming from the stage.
Andrew Matson contributes to Seattle hip-hop sites www.raindrophustla .blogspot.com and www.206proof .com. Reach him at matson.andrew@ gmail.com.
To hear Brandi Carlile online, go to www.myspace.com/brandicarlileband