Review: Indigo Girls @ the Pabst, 4/23/09


Photo, CJ Foeckler

Review by Lucky Tomaszek

It’s hard to know just what to say about a concert like the Indigo Girls show last night at the Pabst. It’s not hard because I have any shortage of words at my disposal. Or because the performance was so average that it left very little to write home about. Not at all. In this case, it’s difficult to write about last night’s show because it will sound like I’m gushing. I have, after all, admitted freely as a writer for VITAL that I’ve been an IG fan for more than two decades. I’m not even sure how many times I’ve seen them live (14? 15?). But there’s a reason for that.

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers have producing music since the mid-80’s. They met in grade school and have been writing together ever since. Consequently, they are absolutely in sync on stage together. Their guitar (and many other stringed instruments) picking is precise, their vocals wind together in perfect pitch and their generousity fills the concert hall with good will.

They opened the show with “Love of our Lives,” a new track off their recently-released album, Poseidon and the Bitter Bug. Though the CD has been out for less than a month, the audience was ready to sing sweetly along with the Girls through this and the other nine new songs. “Driver Education,” previously released on Ray’s solo album, Prom, and “True Romantics” were definite crowd pleasers, despite their status as newborns in a musical career that spans decades.

Of course, Saliers and Ray know that it takes more than a parade of brand new music to keep long-time fans happy. Throughout the show, they wrapped songs from nine of their albums into the set list. As they always do, they frequently invited the crowd to sing along, and in some cases, to sing without them. With the stage lights up on the dancing audience, the Pabst theater rang with voices raised in song and the Indigo Girls beamed out at us and sweetly said, “Thanks y’all. Thanks so much for singin’.”

Milwaukee locals Mrs. Fun joined Ray and Saliers on stage. The band consists of two women, Kim Zick and Connie Grauer, and the two have been friends and colleagues of the Indigo Girls for a long time. You may have seen them open for the Girls on more than one occasion at Summerfest. About halfway through the set, Grauer took the stage by herself and played an amazing piano solo called “Picasso’s Shoes.” And in the last song before the encore, both Grauer and Zick came on to help out with “Closer to Fine,” the IG’s first radio hit and the audience’s favorite sing-along-song.

The show ended with the audience still standing for a two-song encore – “True Romantics’ from their new album and “Galileo” from 1992’s Rites of Passage. The crowd sang and swayed, clapped and cheered. And after the lights came up, people all around me were talking about the next time they would see the Indigo Girls live. I’ll be there too.


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