Sunday, October 26, 2014

Concert Review: Carbon Leaf in Columbus, Ohio

It was almost two years previous to the day that Carbon Leaf took the stage at a Columbus venue. But last Wednesday, the band returned, this time taking the A&R Music Bar.

At about 8 p.m., the opener, Daniel Champagne, took the stage. The crowd, while polite, was not nearly silent enough to reflect his talent. Champagne came all the way from Australia, and started off by playing "The Nightingale," the first preview of his impressive guitar technique. Though Champagne took the stage alone, he created the auditory illusion of a full band with just himself and his guitar. His quick-moving hands played the guitar in the traditional sense, used it as percussion, and created a unique sound by tuning and untuning the guitar as he went.

He continued to play a total of six songs, showcasing his clear, crisp voice. "Same Enemy" featured very handy guitar work, sometimes strumming from the bridge, sometimes plucking with the fingering hand on the fretboard so that he could use the other hand on the body of the instrument as percussion again. Another song, "Fade to Black" was a cover of the blues-ey Dire Straits song that he performed with a great deal of energy.

His final piece was very impressive, with the rapid hand movements almost at their peak, and never a misstep. Unfortunately, customs had confiscated the copies of his CD or I probably would have purchased one.

Carbon Leaf took the stage around 9 p.m., after being introduced by an audio clip from The Muppet Show. They launched immediately into a piece from one of the two albums they released last year, Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle, "A Song For the Sea."

The tour was officially the "Indian Summer Revisited Tour," owing to the fact that it's the tenth anniversary of the album (they also rerecorded the entire album in order to reclaim it from their old record label). To celebrate the album's birthday, they played many songs from the great album, starting with "This is My Song!" and a version of "What About Everything?" much closer to the album version than the performance they gave last time I saw them.

Barry Privett.
The crowd involvement was quite impressive, with Barry Privett holding out his microphone to allow the audience to sing a section of "One Prairie Outpost."

They closed the selection of Indian Summer songs with "Life Less Ordinary," and launched into more tracks from Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle. They began with the instrumental "Februaery Detailles," featuring Privett on electronic bagpipes, and the audience participation piece, "She's Gone (...For Good This Time)."

"Bloody Good Bar Fight Song" was followed by its successor on the album, and a favorite track of mine, "The Donnybrook Affair." "The Donnybrook Affair" may have been the best performance of the evening, although it was followed by the almost equally terrific "American Tale" (from "Ether-Electrified Porch Music").

Carter Gravatt on violin during a song from Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle.

Carter Gravatt shined throughout the evening once again, notably on the extended guitar intro for (and throughout) "Grey Sky Eyes" and an extended break in "Raise the Roof."

Jon Markel
The band then moved into an amp-free semi-circle for "Comfort" and "Ragtime Carnival," both of which sound amazing as acoustic pieces. 

They closed the set with "The Dancing Song," "Desperation Song," and the fan favorite "The Boxer." The crowd remained entertained and engaged to the end. 

Carter Gravatt and Terry Clark reflected in the garage door windows of the A&R.
The band returned to the stage for an encore of "Let Your Troubles Roll By," and then moved into the center of the audience for another acoustic semi-circle of "Learn to Fly."

Carbon Leaf put on another great show. It wasn't free of mistakes, but it was a truly excellent show of skill and rapport with their audience. I eagerly await the next time they come around, and encourage anyone to check them out.

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