The Head and the Heart performed the first of three concerts at the Paramount Theatre Saturday, Nov. 5.
For both The Head and the Heart and their audience, their concert Saturday (Nov. 5) at the Paramount Theatre concert must have felt familiar. Though it was the first of a three-night stand, the band has played the Paramount so many times before that they seemed to know exactly where to bounce their harmonies off the walls.
On the opener “All We Ever Knew” they bounced them perfectly. That upbeat track is off their latest album “Signs of Life.” It’s their first record since co-lead singer Josiah Johnson began a rehab hiatus, leaving the band with a complication. Johnson’s deep voice was missed, but the show was still winning.
Violin player and singer Charity Thielen sings more on the new album, and she’s become the main foil to singer Jon Russell. Her voice on “Take a Walk” was particularly lovely.
The set did veer toward the new album and the previous “Let’s Be Still,” including mostly songs that Russell sang lead on. But the band didn’t shy away from tunes that featured Johnson, including their hit “Lost in My Mind.”
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Johnson’s part on that song was sung by Matt Gervais of Seattle band Mikey and Matty. He’s joined THATH for this tour, and he added nice textures on guitar and harmonies. (Gervais is married to Thielen and Mikey and Matty open Monday’s show.)
Keyboard player Kenny Hensley has always added yet another voice” to THATH, and his countermelodies on “Colors” played off Russell, while on “Sounds Like Hallelujah” he riffed around Thielen’s violin.
That the highlight came with “Down in the Valley,” which ended the main set, shows the strength of this band, and perhaps their challenge moving forward. With or without Johnson, THATH need to evolve beyond harmony singing and to embrace the edges of loneliness in Russell’s best lyric work.
“Down in the Valley” is a shining example of Russell’s strength as a singer when he takes ownership of the band, and his lyrical skill. He talked Saturday about how he wrote the song after walking from the Central District to Fremont.
It was the kind of detail only a hometown crowd would care about. And to a Seattle audience filled with fans who have followed this band for years, and for whom The Head and the Heart represent the soundtrack to an era, that familiarity was sweet, indeed.