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Posted by gustav at 02:00AM, Monday, December 03rd, 2001

The Indigo Girls

I would say "More lesbians than I've ever seen under one roof," if I hadn't been to see Margaret Cho at the Wang last Fall. (From the I've-been-meaning-to-post-this-for-three-months-now dept.)

I only ever saw these guys before at the Newport Folk Festival in, I think, 1995. That was a great concert, but I'd just heard my first Indigo Girls album earlier that year and didn't really know any of the songs except from radio airplay. I do recall being amazed at the number of times they switched guitars, and how hard they rocked out with just acoustic instruments. This time was very similar -- they switched instruments between every song, going from Dreadnaught to mandolin to banjo... I like to see this as them being more boys with their toys than the boys. Certainly it was amongst the best guitar-playing I've heard live.

When I started writing this, it was about a show in February, I think, which they did at the Paradise in Boston, before they released Become You. They were doing a tour of intimate venues to support the album. That was a great show too -- just the two of them, no band, doing mostly stuff off the new album. It was a great way to learn an album. Since then, we saw them at the Fleet Pavilion on the harbor, with a whole band (including the shirtless ambivalently-asian(?) drummer, the only male member); it was even more fun.

I'm amazed that an act that's been around as long as they have has continued to get better. If anything, they're becoming more activist than before. Their singing and instrumental chops continue to improve. The latest album is by far their best, I think. It's impressive in a time when, for example, REM has totally lost it; old 60s die-hards like Dylan and Van Morrison are still around, but have gone for the whole "roots" thing to avoid, perhaps, having to compete with their earlier work; and other, formerly angry young bands have become commercial and uninteresting, or just faded away (think of Sarah McLachlan).

The set-list was great. They did a pretty even spread of stuff from all their albums. Emily did Philosophy of Loss (speaking of activism), and they did Leaving. They also did Our Deliverance, some not-so-subtle criticism of the current American dictatorship's foreign policy which blew me away when I first heard it live this winter. Shockingly, they didn't finish the concert with Closer to Fine, a song that really grates on me, for some reason (too much airplay?) We got great versions of Kid Fears and Galileo instead.

It was a nice experience to see a couple of dykes rock out so hard, making really terrific music to an absolutely enthralled crowd, whom they adore. The Girls obviously sing and tour because they love doing it. I don't think you can fake that, and you can't put on a great show like this if you're just in it for the buck. This was the second-best Boston concert experience I've had, shadowed only by Cecilia Bartoli in Symphony Hall. If ever you get the chance to see them live, do so.

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