Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Michelle Shocked at the Handlbar - Greenville, SC - November 16th 2011

Michelle Shocked's Stage at the Handlebar*
Remember when there used to be mixed tapes?

Well way on back in 1996—just before I went overseas to Cali, Colombia, South America—I got a mixed tape from a friend of my Mom, and on that mix was the song “Been a Long Way”, by Michelle Shocked (off of her Arkansas Traveler).  I loved the song, and if it wasn’t my favorites on the tape, it was damn close.

It wasn’t until a bunch of years later that I picked up a copy of Short, Sharp, Shocked. I was blown away, as there are a number of fantastic tracks on here, including “Anchorage”, “If Love Was a Train” and my personal favorite, “The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore”

So when I found out Michelle Shocked was playing at the Handlebar on November 16th 2011, I jumped at the opportunity to see her live.

In many ways, I was more than satisfied, in other I was not so impressed.

First of all, she’s a great storyteller. She began by informing us that it had become her duty to inculcate in us the legend of … herself.  This was a great way to start the concert, and she proceeded to tell the story of how her first album was released in Europe...without her knowledge!  Someone had been recording her on a walkman with dying batteries.  In an effort to compensate for the slow, low voice (dying batteries!), they overcompensated and sped her voice into an inaccurate falsetto. She didn’t even know about the album until a friend returned from London and told her that he’d heard her songs on the radio.

And that’s just one great story.  She’s got the patter down and it’s enjoyable to listen to her chat.

The downside?

Sometimes she’s just a little too…too… Michelle Shocked. There were a few times when she was so enthusiastic it felt a bit insincere. And during the concert she was nothing if not a huge ham. I also might be reading her wrong and she really is just that nice.

So was it a good concert? Yes. Would I heartily recommend it?  Enh.

I’d recommend going, but with the caveats mentioned above.

*Okay, confession time. I did take a picture of the stage, but can’t find the friggin’ thing.  I don’t have any pictures of her, alas.  This picture is just some random picture from some random club in Greensboro, NC.

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