Hits don’t hurt, but they weren’t necessary for the Indigo Girls on Tuesday night at The Egg’s Hart Theater.
The mostly filled hall – predominantly women – were happy to hear anything Amy Ray and Emily Saliers delivered, preferably leaning toward the feisty and rebellious sides. This much they got.
There were ballads sprinkled here and there to break up the dynamic, but the strength of the show was their more rambunctious, muscular folk.
Their best work was on the political commentaries cleverly merged inside love songs. In “Become You,” Ray ranted lines like “The center held the bonded slave for the sake of industry,” setting it inside the context of a relationship. “It took a long time to become the thing I am to you.”
A large part of the night was filled with mid-tempo tunes that often blended together. While well-received, the Girls moved through them a little too quickly, including songs like “Damo,” and “Get Out the Map.”
“Making Promises,” from their latest, “Beauty Queen Sister,” was short and strong, but offered little more than any of the others. They followed with “Fill it up Again,” asking the audience to handle the chorus.
They slowed things down with “Share the Moon,” a ballad that didn’t reach the height it should have. They made up for it, though, by pushing the next tune, “Feed and Water the Horses,” perhaps the best ballad of the night.
Ray finally injected the show with higher energy during “Land of Canaan.” Here the guitar work from both was aggressive, and violinist Lyris Hung fiddled a nice solo through the midsection. But this was a moment for Hung to bring down the house, and she didn’t take it.
Ray got mean for “Go,” with she and Saliers harmonizing the fight song, calling for action with Ray yelling, “just go go go.” Later on, she came out equally strong with the in-your-face tune “Reunion.”
Saliers sang the prettiest tune of the night, “John,” though its lyrics were over-the-top oddly literal, about the caretaker of her home. Still, it was nice.
The show ended with “Kid Fears,” the coolest tune of the night, “Birthday Song,” not as cool, and of course their big one, “Closer to Fine.”
“I love you,” yelled a crowd member between songs early in the night. “I love you more,” yelled another, both Indigo Girls enjoying the exchange, as they have for decades. They are one of the few acts who have avoided the industry trappings and succeeded on their own terms.
Common Rotation opened with a soft, folky set of their original Americana tunes. Their sound moved from Simon and Garfunkel to bluegrass, always with a light touch, always pensive, subtle little points jutting out through instruments like the glockenspiel and trumpet. For their final number, they stood at the edge of the stage to sing without mikes a sharp political song about saving the country from burning, with lines such as the Wall Street events “prove what we occupy is very small.”
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