When 9:30 rolled around and the duet made their way off stage after playing many songs from Welch's last album with a splattering of earlier tunes, the crowd, predictably, cheered them back for an encore. Welch started the first encore with "Sweet Tooth" an upbeat, classic American ballad from Rawlings' last album, the only song of the night, unfortunately, with Rawlings in the lead, followed by the classic "Miss Ohio". But, yes, there was a second encore that showed a little less predictability with a very folky cover of Jefferson Airplane's "Go Ask Alice" followed by a rival-style, foot-stomping, crowd-singing rendition of "I'll Fly Away". Even with the overwhelming sadness present in many of the songs from their latest album, The Harrow and the Harvest, we left feeling inspired and uplifted, cathartic and enchanted.
All-in-all, Gillian Welch played a nearly perfect show this Tuesday; it was everything a first-rate musical experience is: emotionally packed, transcendent, and precise. It made me feel good about living in this country, about the roots and history of America, about the fecundity and hope of American music. If Welch doesn't receive a nomination, or better yet, win a Grammy for her latest record, I will be disheartened. The power of two---two voices, two instruments, two partners was able to fill a theater not only with people, but with a round, complete sound capable of stopping time.
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