Los Angeles Music Review: EMMYLOU HARRIS & RODNEY CROWELL (Valley Performing Arts Center)

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by Jesse David Corti on September 30, 2013

in Theater-Los Angeles,Tours


Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell took the stage at Valley Performing Arts Center to deliver a hot set of good old-fashioned country-flavored Americana music. It was an evening of legends paying tribute to those whom they revere and love, not excluding each other. Since their first meeting forty years ago, these highly regarded humble figures retain the same charm and verve that brought them to the forefront of the alt-country scene. Performing selections off their collaborative effort, Old Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell at the Beacon - photo by Samantha MarbleYellow Moon, from each other’s respective catalog, and revered songwriters like Gram Parsons, Kris Kristofferson, and Townes Van Zandt, the concert tempered evenly between hot, rollicking, jaunty ditties and tender, elegiac ballads.

No matter what she sang, Harris’s sensitive voice fluttered with an angel’s melancholic grace, carrying the weight of heartbreak and tragedies within songs such as “The Road,” her elegy for Parsons, and the plaintive “Long Time Girl Gone By.” Crowell’s warm harmonies on “If I Needed You” and “Love Hurts” cozily fit like a friend resting upon another’s shoulder.

A poor sound mix occasionally hampered the evening’s otherwise enjoyable concert. While all the instrumentalists could be heard impeccably, Harris and Crowell’s voices were often buried beneath the musicians; I had to strain to make out the lyrics. The voices were clearly heard during an “unplugged” stretch where it was just vocals and acoustic guitar. That said, guitarist Jedd Hughes positively wowed with Emmylou Harris at the Beacon - photo by Samantha Marblehis dastardly dexterous guitar licks on songs like “Luxury Liner” and “Hanging up My Heart,” while Steve Fishell layered dimension and depth, whether it was an ocean bed for mournful songs or short sharp rockabilly flourishes on the uptempo rockers with his Pedal steel work.

Harris’s humor showed when she clipped her capo on the guitar two frets too high on “Tulsa Queen;” she handled it affably with: “My big moment. Anyway, have a little mulligan here. Here we go!” Making more than a recovery, it proved to be one of the evening’s best performances that showcased tremendous three-part harmonies from Harris, Crowell, and Hughes. On “Rock of My Soul” Crowell anchored the propulsive, hypnotic arrangement deftly telling his semi-autobiographical story with his strong and tender drawl. Yes it was a concert by legends, but more than that, it was a wholly American portrait of the beautiful friendship between the “Red Dirt Girl” and “A Houston Kid.”

photos from previous concerts of this tour

Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge
played September 27, 2013
for future VPAC shows, call (818) 677-3000 or visit http://www.valleyperformingartscenter.org

for future tour dates and cities, visit http://www.emmylouharris.com/

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