I went into this one completely blind. Prior to this show all I knew about The Civil Wars was that my sister had seem them perform on the Grammys and that she thought they were better than whatever country superstar they were opening for. That was it. On that one recommendation I bought a ticket for their show at The Ogden. A show that would eventually become sold out. So, was my impulse purchase worth it? Did they live up to the sold out show?
My friend Catherine originally had a ticket to this show but she sold it when she heard that a band that she likes named Milo Greene was playing at the Larimier Lounge the day before the show. I’m guessing she didn’t know that Milo Green was also opening for the Civil Wars so she could have seen them both in one night. It’s of little consequence though because, given the performance they gave, I’m sure the show the night before was good.
So many people were at this show early and I’m not sure if that was because they were already aware of Milo Greene or because they wanted to get a good spot for The Civil Wars either way I think that the band was truly surprised to see a nearly full house on hand for their opening set. They thanked us several times for coming early and, to their credit, the audience was engaged and entertained so the side conversations that often accompany an opening performance were few and far between.
They are an exceptionally talented quintet based out of LA. Everyone in the band, with the exception of the drummer, played more than one instrument and everyone sang. Different people took the lead on different songs and just the pure amount of musicianship they showed was incredible. Their songs were polished and varied and they approached each and every one of them with the sort of unbridled joy that is always fun to see at a live show. They had a ton of chemistry as a group and it really shone through in their interactions with each other on stage.
They presented us with so much good music that I was surprised to hear that they didn’t have an album out yet. Thankfully there will be one out on July 17th though. I really could have watched these guys play all night long, they were just that good and that fun to watch, I can’t wait until they come back to Denver.
The Civil Wars, if the loud guy next to me at the concert is to be believed, met by happenstance at a song writing workshop. Names were drawn from a hat for songwriting pairings and these two people with perfectly complimentary voices were brought together. The rest, as they say, is history. I really have no idea if any of that is true, I realize that I could have looked it up but it’s such a good story that I want it to be true so I’m just going to pretend that it is until I hear otherwise, and possibly even after I hear otherwise.
They were charming, and joyous, and humble from the moment they stepped on the stage. They really seemed genuinely surprised and honored that this many people had come to see them perform. Given their music they shouldn’t be surprised at all though. Still it’s nice to see such genuine people thrust into the limelight.People who are there because they are good at what they do. People who have won fans by writing deep emotional music wrought with honesty and feeling. People who make music the way that it should be made.
The music that these two create together is all kinds of wonderful and beautiful. Their harmonies ebb and flow crashing against each other and washing over the audience in a beautiful deluge of heartfelt music. They were astounding. That so much music could come from one guitar and two voices is almost hard to believe. And oh my god what voices. He was no slouch in the vocal department but she is head and shoulders above almost anyone I’ve ever seen. He plays the guitar but her voice is the only instrument she needs.
They mesh so well that it’s hard to believe they haven’t been writing songs together their entire lives. Theirs is the kind of folk music that doesn’t seem to be around much these days, folk music that harkens back to Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell where the music and the harmonies matter as much as the words.
Their music is simple, beautiful, and simply beautiful. I went into this show completely blind with no idea of what to expect and I left as a fan. In a way that says more than anything I ever could. I will buy their music and I will see them again I’d be crazy not to.
My new thing is apparently posting two videos for the headliner so I’ll stick with that here.
First this cover of Billie Jean does a great job of capturing the joy they bring to the stage:
And then the harmonies