Lisa Hannigan, Joe Henry take off, after awhile
Paradise, Boston, June 13, 2012
Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
The start of the concert co-featuring Irish singer Lisa Hannigan and American singer/songwriter/producer Joe Henry was inauspicious to say the least. Hannigan took lead vocals on Home, which also is the lead song off her "Passengers" disc.
The "only" problem was that Hannigan's voice was seriously undermiked to the point that you could barely hear her lovely voice.
And the crowd was not shy about letting the performers know there was a problem here and later in the show. Yet, it took awhile to iron out all the kinks sound-wise on this evening of folk and rootsy sounds.
Fortunately Henry, Hannigan and a strong backing band were around for about two hours, so they had time to make up for the early snafus.
A bit of a shy performer, Hannigan, who has done time singing with Damien Rice's band, sang almost the entire "Passengers" disc, and she has a pretty sounding set of chords with depth.
Henry has enjoyed a longstanding career as a solo artist, although in recent years, his production skills seem to have given him more notoriety. In fact, he produced "Passengers," along with recent albums from Bonnie Raitt and Rodney Crowell/Mary Karr and Carolina Chocolate Drops.
Henry was not as engaging a performer as his counterpart, mainly because her voice was more distinctive. Henry has a definite Dylan influence going on (the nicely done Civil War where Henry's vocals were upfront). Henry helped build Eyes Out For You in a song that picked up steam.
Hannigan and Henry tended to trade song leads with the other serving as back-up vocal. But the attention was not only on them. Lead guitarist John Smith also was given lead vocals on a few songs and put his time out front to good effect. He enjoyed the biggest hand of the night playing solo acoustic on In the Winter. The British native played with his guitar on his lap, plucking at it in a way that resulted in both percussive and guitar sounds emanating from the instrument with his somewhat gravelly voice atop.
The evening closed with The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, a tribute to the late Levon Helm. Hannigan, Henry, Smith and drummer Ross Turner were out front, trading stanzas with Smith on acoustic guitar. In a concert that started without being able to hear the vocals, this was a strong closer in what proved to eventually be filed with lots of good sounds.