An Intimate Acoustic Evening with Brandi Carlile World Cafe Live - Philadelphia, PA


Gregory Alan Isakov took the stage to open an evening filled with music, and a sold out audience Tuesday in Philadelphia. Vocally, Isakov has a wonderful tonal quality. His performance was a bit dry and unaffected. Enter Brandi Carlile, and so she did on Isakov’s third song. Carlile took the stage in a t-shirt, jeans, and her socks, stating, “I wasn’t finished dressing.” Carlile added beautiful harmonies to three of her opener’s songs, and a much needed stage presence boost. She explained to the audience, “This is our first night of the tour! We spent the day trying to figure out how to set the stage...whether to use real or fake candles..we’ve been to Walmart twice!”

After a brief intermission, the stage was set for Brandi Carlile and company. The stage was quite literally set to create the intimate atmosphere the bill promised. Three oriental rugs lay on the floor, a table draped with earth-tone fabrics complete with a small lamp sat with an open ukulele case in front, and a three-branched candelabrum was center stage, in back of a piano.

Josh Neumann took the stage solo, and played a gorgeous introductory piece on cello as Brandi and “The Twins” (Phil and Tim Hanseroth) walked on, and eased into a superb acoustic rendition of “Follow” from Carlile’s self-titled debut album. “Closer to You,” from the same album, was on tap next as Brandi explained “We’re playing songs from the first two albums, but are going to play a bunch of new songs from an album we just finished recording.”

Samplings from the not yet released album were an unplugged version of “Dying Day,” followed by “Dreams” which was a standout with a brilliant chorus which kicked in and showcased Carlile’s raspy, edgy vocals. Brandi Carlile then took a seat at the piano for another new song, as she told the audience she cried “two times in the studio while trying to record this next song, but I’m going to have to get used to it,” and with lyrics like “let it bend before it breaks” Carlile showed a raw vulnerability. “Oh Dear” was up next, with Brandi, Phil and Tim gathered around one microphone, with Phil Hanseroth on ukulele. “Oh Dear” kept Carlile in her upper register for most of the song, and the twins singing incredible harmonies. Carlile quickly went back into fan favorites, “What Can I Say,” and “Downpour.”

A highlight was when Carlile invited Gregory Alan Isakov back to the stage to perform a cover of “You Belong to Me” perhaps best known as a Patsy Cline classic. Carlile and Isakov sounded wondrous together on “You Belong to Me.”

Brandi Carlile ended her set with “The Story” into two Johnny Cash covers - first up, “Jackson,” quickly into “Folsom Prison Blues.”

For the encore, Carlile was solo with new songs on tap. She started with a love song, “If There Was No You,” which showcased Carlile’s vocals with a revealing vulnerable touch. She quickly transitioned into a pure country segment of the show, as Carlile asked the audience, “Do you like country music?” She played samplings of some of her favorite “funny but not meant to be funny” country covers, including a few Tammy Wynette tunes, notably “Stand By Your Man.” She launched into a song she wrote and claimed as her own ”funny country” tune. Carlile ended the night with another new song,  “That Year,” and although many Carlile faithful heard it performed live during a prior tour, the audience was silent through a gorgeous and heartfelt last song.

Philadelphia marked the first stop on Brandi Carlile’s two month acoustic tour, and the performance clearly introduced new songs in support of her forthcoming album. For a first stop, complete with breaking in new songs live, Brandi Carlile, Tim and Phil Hanseroth, and Josh Neumann put on a solid show. Eager ears were treated to Carlile’s emotive vocals, adept guitar playing, and a warm stage the promised “intimate evening” lived up to its name.

-TJ for The Buzz About


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